Honoring our Working Dogs - Labor Day Edition

Animals, People, & the Earth
September 7, 2020

Honoring Working Animals on Labor Day

Labor Day is fast approaching, and while we take the time to honor all the people who work hard every day, let’s not forget to also include a celebration of working animals. From search and rescue dogs to therapy horses to library cats, animals hold many important jobs and they deserve to be recognized for their efforts, too. Here is a look at just a few animal jobs that we can all admire this Labor Day.

Library Cats

Since the Middle Ages, when cats were brought in to keep rats from eating books, to today when cats help with everything from boosting staff morale to enhancing literacy programs to upgrading marketing strategies,cats have been living and working in libraries. With many hundreds of library cats worldwide, this is obviously a popular job for felines. This is likely because cats have the right personality and skill set to work in libraries.They are great at keeping mice and rats away, which helps to prevent damage to the library’s collections, and they are calm and quiet enough to not disturb library patrons.

Search and Rescue Dogs

Whether responding to an earthquake, avalanche, or other natural disaster or helping to locate a missing person, search and rescue dogs work hard to save lives and help survivors. Because of their amazing sense of smell and their rigorous training, search and rescue dogs can find people trapped under rubble, debris, or snow, as well as locate people who have gone missing just by catching their scent from an article of clothing. These dogs work with police, fire, and emergency response teams or with private citizens who volunteer their time to help when disaster strikes.

Therapy Horses

Therapy horses are trained to help people with a wide variety of physical, cognitive, and emotional challenges and are often used by physical therapists, occupational therapists, mental health professionals, and speech-language pathologists as an additional tool to enhance other forms of therapy for their clients. Formally called Equine-Assisted Activities and Therapy, this work consists of a wide variety of tasks. For example,Equine-Assisted Learning helps people to learn or improve life skills by riding and caring for therapy horses, while Equine-Assisted Psychotherapy has clients care for therapy horses as a means of delving further into their own feelings.Whatever the activity or its desired outcome, therapy horses provide calm and gentle help to the people who work with them.

Military Dolphins and Sea Lions

The United States Navy puts the high intelligence and powerful sonar capabilities of dolphins and sea lions to good work in detecting underwater mines. The animals are trained to safely locate the mines and report back about their location so that Navy crews can then disarm or avoid them.

Even Rats Have Jobs

Like the dolphins and sea lions that save lives by detecting underwater mines, on land Gambian pouched rats do that same work to locate land mines. These rats can be up to three feet long, but they are lightweight enough that they won’t set off the land mines while they are out detecting them.

These are just a few of the many jobs that animals do to make our lives safer and easier. So, on Labor Day, remember to celebrate not just the work of humans, but the very important work of animals as well. From cats and dogs to horses and, yes, even rats, animals do a lot of good work for us every day. They comfort us, keep us company, and risk themselves to save our lives. Maybe we should throw them a parade or at least just be extra generous with the treats. Whatever the means,be sure to thank a working animal for all