Dogs in the News: February 2021

Posted by Scott Tunstall

Similar to celebrities and political figures, pups often find themselves in the news. However, unlike their two-legged counterparts, canines usually grab headlines for all the right reasons. From detection dogs to Guinness World Record-breakers, here’s a roundup of dogs in the news this month.

1. Miami Heat Use Dogs to Detect Covid-19

Hero in action. Photo by Facebook.com/MedicalDetectionDogs

In an effort to help battle the ongoing global pandemic, detection dogs are now being utilized to sniff out the virus. When the NBA’s Miami Heat started allowing a limited number of fans into AmericanAirlines Arena late last month, the team began employing Covid-19 detection canines. Entry into the 1,500-person capacity stadium is divided into socially distanced lines for inspection. If a dog smells the virus on a fan, that person and their group are denied entrance. Studies show these highly trained animals are anywhere from 76% to 100% accurate in detecting positive cases.

2. Two Border Collies Set World Record

World’s Best Boys. Photo by Facebook.com/dogmantics

A pair of precocious pups just entered the record books. Wish and Halo, two Border Collies from El Cajon, California, were recognized in January by Guinness World Records for performing the most tricks in one minute by two dogs. In addition, Wish also smashed the record for the fastest 5-meter crawl by a canine, clocking in at a brisk 2.175 seconds. Professional trainer Emily Larlham uses “Progressive Reinforcement Training” to teach her furry acrobats all matter of tricks, and also instructs fellow dog owners on how best to use her unique training methods.

3. Therapy Dogs Surprise National Guard at DC Hotel

Always ready, always adorable. Photo by @hamiltonhoteldc

Over 250 National Guard troops staying at the Hamilton Hotel in Washington DC were treated to a warm and furry treat late last month when a dozen therapy dogs paid them a surprise visit. The hotel joined forces with a local nonprofit, People Animals Love, to arrange the special delivery. The therapy pups did the rest by providing much-needed love and affection to men and women who have been stationed in the nation’s capital since the Presidential Inauguration. Away from their families for weeks, the National Guard members were more than happy to dish out plenty of head pats, chin scratches and belly rubs.

4. United Kingdom to Stop Landlords From Banning Pets

Model tenants. Photo by Unsplash/Kevin Turcios

Pet owners in the United Kingdom received some welcome news last week. Thanks to new guidelines issued by the Ministry of Housing, the United Kingdom is one step closer to preventing landlords from refusing tenants with pets.

Under the Model Tenancy Agreement, landlords will no longer be able to impose blanket bans on renters who own pets. They will have 28 days to issue a formal written objection and provide valid reasons in order to deny prospective tenants from bringing a dog or cat into the home.

The British government estimates only 7% of private landlords currently advertise pet-friendly properties. As such, many pet owners cannot find suitable housing, and some are even forced to surrender their animals. Putting an end to this struggle remains a priority for those who support the agreement.

However, more work needs to be done. The Model Tenancy Agreement acts as a guideline for landlords to follow, but isn’t legally binding. Until it becomes law, there is no guarantee that renters with pets will see significant relief. Landlords can still charge higher rent and damage deposits for four-legged tenants.

5. Guide Dog Foundation Celebrates 75th Anniversary

Forever friends. Photo by Facebook.com/GuideDogFoundation

February marks the 75th Anniversary of the Guide Dog Foundation, one of the leading guide dog schools in the country. Founded in 1946 in Queens, New York, the Guide Dog Foundation is dedicated to training service canines to assist the blind and visually impaired, including military veterans and Paralympians.

Guide Dog Foundation President and CEO John Miller recognized the tireless efforts of volunteers, staff and donors throughout the years: “It brings all of us at the Foundation great pride and joy to be able to provide these life-changing dogs to individuals who are blind or have low vision for 75 years. As we continue to further our mission, we remain a committed advocate for the disability community.”

It costs over $50,000 to raise, train and place assistance pups, but the Guide Dog Foundation offers its invaluable services free of charge.

6. Study Shows Dogs Can Learn New Words Quickly

“I heard you the first three times.” Photo by Unsplash/Baptist Standaert

A research team from Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest has discovered that some canines can learn new words rapidly. It takes most dogs weeks or months of training to recognize new words, but the pair of “gifted” pups used in the study were able to identify the names of new toys after hearing them only four times.

During the study, each dog was introduced to one new toy and seven known toys. After repeating the name of the new toy four times, both were able to pick it out and retrieve it from the group of older toys. The researchers attempted the same challenge with 20 other dogs and found that none of them were able to achieve the same feat. Try this test at home, and you may discover your furry friend is a genius!

7. John Beargrease Dog Sled Marathon Crowns a Winner

Mush! Photo by Unsplash/Yann Gbs

On February 2, National Sled Dog Day, Erin Letzring and her team of faithful Alaskan Huskies crossed the finish line to claim victory in the 37th John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon. Letzring, racing in her very first Beargrease, defeated her ex-husband and defending champion Ryan Redington, and also became the first female winner since 1998.

The three-day, 302-mile race began the morning of January 31 in Duluth, Minnesota, and concluded just outside the city of Grand Portage. Letzring and Redington passed each other several times during the final stage before Letzring pulled ahead for a narrow 7-second win.

An exhilarated Letzring praised her pups for the fantastic finish. “I just thought, come on (dogs) don’t give up now, don’t give in… And don’t one of you stop to poop now!”

What’s your favorite news story about dogs? Leave a comment or tweet us @BringFido!

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