Tag Archives: dogs

Who’s a good dog?

Here’s a new way they can possibly detect COVID at airports. The old sniffer dog routine. In a recent article by Michelle Robson the possibility of sniffer dogs for COVID is explored –

“Dogs have already been proven to detect various human diseases such as cancer merely using their sense of smell. A 2019 study showed that dogs could use their highly evolved senses to pick out blood samples from people with cancer with almost 97% accuracy. A dog’s nose has 300 million scent receptors, compared to 5 million in a human. This means they can detect many odors, such as drugs, explosives, and food. This makes dogs a common site in airports where they are often walked up and down a queue of passengers to detect illicit substances. In the UK, a project backed by the UK government has started to train dogs to detect COVID-19 positive patients by smell.” (Michele Robson-Forbes Magazine).

Having a dog sniff around you might be way better than having someone stick a long ear bud up your nose or down the back of your throat. I guess what would happen is that if the dog detects you have COVID then you may have to go through the ear bud test just to be sure. But hang on a minute – is one breed of dog better than another? Well the answer is yes apparently. The blood hound is said to be the best and why not? That’s what Sherlock Holmes used to help him solve those mysteries. So it is all about the sense of smell and which dogs have the best. Mr Bloodhound comes first on that list.

It’s all to do with those long floppy ears and the ridges and wrinkles on Mr Bloodhound that make him such a good sniffer dog. They all help to waft the smells up his nose. In fact the bloodhound is often described as a nose with a dog attached. Their sense of smell is so acute they can pick up a scent that is 12 days old. They won’t need that skill at the airport though.

The strange thing is that if you have COVID somehow it changes your body odour – and that’s what the dogs pick up on. In fact they are so good at this that they can sniff up to 750 people per hour.

I wonder when Mr Bloodhound goes home at the end of his shift if he complains to his buddies about having had a hard day at the airport and what the different people smell like.

So this is a good thing to consider. Is this animal abuse? After some of those long flights people can get pretty stinky …. not everyone … but I am sure you have come across this in your flying lifetime. Some people are nervous flyers and then they might get a bit smelly due to anxiety or perspiration. But there are lots of other smells that seem much more obvious in an enclosed space.

Oh, and don’t eat beans. “Your body actually becomes gassier in an airplane due to the increased cabin pressure,” says Samantha Morrison, a health expert for Glacier Wellness. “This effectively causes gas in your intestinal tract to expand and cause uncomfortable bloating and flatulence. While there’s no perfect solution, your best bet is to stay hydrated and avoid foods which can cause gas, such as beans and vegetables.”

So after hours of this poor Mr Bloodhound gets to sniff your bum while he checks out if you have COVID. He may discover that he doesn’t like your deodorant (or lack of) but you will be happy when he gives you the all clear and goes off to sniff the next bum.

Poor Mr Bloodhound! What a job!

Dog Day Morning in Johannesburg

It’s the best day of the week for the dogs of Johannesburg.  That’s a Monday – and it is Piki Tup day.  What an ingenious name for garbage collection – a real African winner.  piki tup

Now the dogs of Johannesburg are generally confined to the front yard behind walls and gates – standing (or lying) on duty to sound the alarm should a stranger think of entering.  Just another layer of security in a city where this is considered the norm.  But you have to agree that any dog would get a bit bored with this – especially if it is just the same old people each day walking past the gate on the way home after work.  So Piki Tup day is – EXCITING!


You can hear the truck before it arrives.  Hanging onto the sides of the truck are the “pickers” – no automation here – all human interaction.  As they come down the street they announce their arrival with loud whistles…. and the dogs go crazy!  Doesn’t matter if they are the biggest meanest looking Rottweiler or the littlest short-legged, stomach-just-off-the-ground dachshund.  They jump.  They bark.  They run back and forth in front of the gate.  They yell to their mates “Hey here comes the Piki Tup…. come on guys…. can you bark a bit louder?”

It’s not just the Piki Tup trucks that cause such excitement.  Before the trucks even approach, the streets are full of bottle pickers who comb through the Piki Tup bins for anything that can be recycled for money.  What an amazing job they do.  Certain types of paper, plastic and all sorts of bottles are transferred from the wheely bins into huge and unwieldy contraptions balanced on wheels – sometimes cannibalised from baby strollers.  It’s African entrepreneurship at it’s best.  Out on my morning jog I passed by one such bottle picker who filled the street with his beautiful baritone as he sang an old tribal song.  I didn’t know the words – maybe something similar to the Walking Song but this was a Bottle Picking song.  Whatever he was singing about I felt I could just close my eyes and be transported to the depths of rural Zululand.

bottle pickers

I am with the dogs!  I love Piki Tup Day!