To look at Jem today, with her bright eyes and bouncy personality, you would never know what she went through as a young puppy. Little Jem was born into a life
Man’s best friend has historically been a reliable colleague too. Even though the way we work may have changed dramatically over the years, there’s still a significant number of canine colleagues out there – guide dogs, sheep dogs, police dogs, fire dogs, prison dogs, bomb dogs – even office dogs are becoming a thing. All helping their human companions in day-to-day life.
Different roles require different temperaments, which makes some dogs more suited to roles than others. Border collies, for example, make fine sheep dogs, but their excitable nature and boundless energy doesn’t help in jobs which require calmer heads. Equally, animals used in sensitive situations, such as searching for members of the public, often need to be perceived as ‘gentler’ breeds so as not to scare people that may not be particularly keen on other types of dogs.
One thing all active working dog roles require, however, is the right nutrition. The levels of concentration and focus required, plus the energy to work potentially long shifts in what can be dangerous or tense environments, means that the food these dogs eat needs to be right for them. It’s just like us – professional athletes have long eaten to fuel their specific requirements, but even an office worker will notice that eating a lot of certain types of food will affect them in different ways – most of us will have experienced a 2pm food hangover at our desks after a big lunch!
Over the coming weeks we’re going to be looking at a number of different types of working dogs and how the food they eat helps them perform to the best of their abilities.
First up will be Cai and Kara of the West Midlands Fire Service. Looked after by their handler Mat Dixon, these two Belgian Malinois have different roles which require varied skillsets and training, built on a foundation of the right food to fulfil their nutritional needs.
We’ll also be looking at a team of prison dogs, and finding out how several breeds are suited to the various roles that prison service dogs are required to perform.