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Arson Dogs

  For more than 12,000 years, dogs have worked alongside humans. They have herded our livestock, hunted with us, and pulled us across otherwise impassable frozen expanses. Most modern dogs are companions, of course, but those who do work have ever more extraordinary job descriptions. Accelerant-detection is one example. Arson dogs work with fire investigative units to sniff out minuscule amounts of anything from lamp oil to lighter fluid (they can detect more than 60 different ignitable petroleum-based hydrocarbons) in scenes flooded with water or covered in snow or mud. They use their 200 million scent receptors (compared to our 5 million) to help investigators accurately assess the flammable products present at a fire scene and increase the chances of collecting a positive sample. This can help rule arson in—or out. With billions of dollars in property and hundreds of lives lost every year as a result of intentionally set

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The Expectation Game

In our ongoing adventure of companionship with dogs nothing trips us up quite as much as our own unrealistic expectations. Dogs who don’t do as they are told? We think them willfully disobedient, stubborn, or, worst of all, slow on the uptake. We overestimate their attention span and level of emotional control. We think they should know instinctively how to navigate big groups of dogs playing together. We expect them to quickly grasp concepts we deem important and logical for dogs, such as going to the bathroom outside (except when it’s OK not to, like at daycare). Unless a good dog trainer sets us straight, we may even expect angelic behavior after completing a single 6-week training class. Our high and often naive expectations cause us grief and worry, so why are they so hard to shake? Blame culture, for one thing. Books and movies that portray dogs as highly

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Are We More Bonded With Our Dogs Now, More Than Ever?

The Dogness of Everything There’s a good likelihood you think of your dog as part of the family. More of us than ever tell researchers we do. For that reason it’s easy to assume the human-dog bond is stronger now than it’s ever been—but is it? Before we had goats and cows to herd, before we had homes to protect, before we domesticated animals of any other species, dogs were our friends and allies. Archeological finds suggest we often relied on them for our lives. With their superior senses, dogs were our hunting partners, our guards against predators, and our companions on journeys into the proverbial woods of the unknown. So deep and strong was the bond between early humans and early canids that dogs play a major part in every world mythology. The powerful symbolism of dogs—and dogness—suff uses our collective conscious. In many mythologies, dogs are guides between

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