Animals With Meaningful Jobs
If only we could walk into the office everyday and see an adorable duck sitting at their at their desk, diligently working away. While this may never be the case, it doesn’t mean animals haven’t been assigned some jobs throughout times and cultures.
From the serious, to the adorable, to the downright dangerous, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite employed animals. Take a list at the list we’ve compiled below.
Navy Mascot Goat, “Bill”
Bill the Goat is the United States Naval Academy that first appeared in 1893 during an Army-Navy Game. The Navy won 6-3 and thus adopted the goat as part of their team. It grew into tradition and there has been now 36 “Bill the Goat” mascots for the Navy.
The Navy, Army, and Air Force academies have all partaken in “kidnapping” Bill for generations as part of their so-called “spirit missions” that generally align with annual Army-Navy football games where both sides have mascots expected to appear.
Keiko the Killer Whale of Free Willy
Keiko’s story is rather sad, but he did have a job, nonetheless. Keiko was captured in 1979 in Iceland when he was a young whale and held in inadequate conditions in a Mexico City aquarium where his tank was tap water and table salt. Eventually, he was rescued and rehabilitated at a facility in Oregon with the goal of releasing him back into the wild.
In 1993 he portrayed Free Willy and did a great job. In 2002 he was released back into the wild in Iceland but died in 2003 in Norway from pneumonia.
Avalanche dog’s jobs are to find people who have been buried in snow after an avalanche. They begin digging where they smell someone buried as a signal to the rescue patrol to begin the extrication process.
Time is incredibly critical after an avalanche. After 15 minutes 90% of people will survive an avalanche. That number drops to 50% after 30 minutes, so avalanche dogs are critical. The number one best dog for this task is a bloodhound as they are highly energetic and keen to track a scent for miles with their more than 300 million scent sensors.
African Giant Pouched Rats as Bomb Detectors
African giant pouched rats have been utilized in Cambodia for their bomb and landmine detecting snouts. There are hazardous unexploded weapons of war that dot the Cambodian countryside and are dangerous to civilians and have been left by militaries to slow enemy forces.
The rats have been trained to sniff out their locations with their exceptional sense of smell and lightweight body to prowl over the landscape. The most famous rat, Magawa, uncovered over 100 abandoned explosives.
Border Collies Trained to Scatter Seed to Restore Forest Fire Damage
Border collies are natural work dogs with intrinsic herding instincts and intellect and are ideal for farm work. In January of 2017 Chile suffered their worst wildfire in the nation’s history. The fire destroyed over a million acres of land, destroying homes, and taking lives.
Border collies were equipped with specially designed pouches filled with native seeds and were sent on their merry way throughout the forest. The pooches can cover up to 18 miles each day.
Coast Guard Dog
The United States Coast Guard deploys the use of pet-detective pooches within their missions as explosive detection dogs. The Coast Guard has 16 canine explosive detection teams, each with one working human and one working dog.
Dogs must complete 10 to 15 weeks of training prior to being paired with a handler, which is then followed by another 10-week training course with a trainer. This is all very important work and we by no means want to digress from that–but how cute is that outfit?
Sentry dogs are meant to heed warning to soldiers in the cover of darkness or if a threat may be coming from behind. Sentry dogs were also by the Coast Guard during World War Two as coastal protection against enemy submarine activity.
The dogs are trained to work without supervision in fenced facilities or on a farm as well as deter and/or detain unauthorized people who enter the facility they are guarding. Sentry dogs are traditionally Dobermans.
Scout or Patrol Dogs
Scout or patrol dogs are trained to detect snipers, ambushes, and enemy forces. They are trained to work completely silently and are considered elite amongst the different classes of military dogs due to this and their superior intelligence.
The mere presence of a scout or patrol dogs greatly decreases the likelihood of an attack and therefore boosts morale when present. Usually, these kinds of dogs are German Shepherd.
Messenger dogs were utilized most during the first World War and was considered the most elite pooch servant along every front line. These canines must be extremely loyal and trusted as they are required to go from one handler to the other.
They would travel silently and effectively eliminated significant human casualty. The most common messenger dogs were German shepherds, Dobermans, Airedales, and Rottweilers.
Casualty dogs are trained to search and report casualties in ambiguous locations or scout out injured soldiers who needs immediate attention, oftentimes carrying medical supplies on their bodies.
In modern times, the dogs are outfitted with protective armor and a small camera for the handlers to send the dogs at least 1,000 feet ahead of them. Usually, casualty dogs are German shepherds.
University Use Sheep Instead of Lawn Mowers
University of California, Davis, has implemented 25 roaming (and grazing) sheep as part of their newest experiment to see if they can rely on the sheep to keep their grass maintained in place of their usual maintenance crew.
Haven Kiers is running the experiment to test if the sheep’s eating habits can assist with fertilization and pest control while also having a positive impact on student’s mental health. UCSD are checking the soil samples with hope that the free weeding and fertilizing can create a multi-functional landscape.
Golden Retriever as a Durian Fruit Harvester
A dog named Jubjib is lending his paws to a durian fruit farm in Thailand and helping to assist in harvesting the fruit. Durian is considered some of the smelliest fruit in the word, sometimes being compared to “pig excrement, turpentine, and onions, garnished with a gym sock.” Yikes.
While he doesn’t actually harvest the fruit, he does bring his positive energy and light and has gained a large Instagram following with his iconic hats. His likeness has graced the covers of durian products. This good boy’s job is being iconic.
Diabetic Alert Dog
The National Institute for Diabetic Alert Dogs and Diabetic Alert Dog University train dogs to spot the difference between certain scents and be able to tell when a person’s blood sugar is high or low. Because the animal is trained to recognize to a person’s blood chemistry, they can alert the person or the person’s caregiver to take action in the appropriate window of time before negative symptoms occur.
Dog breeds that are trained this way are golden retrievers, Labradors, mixed sporting breed dogs, and poodles.
Donkeys Carry Lambs in Special Pouches to Higher Ground
“Nanny donkeys” and mules are outfitted with saddles to assist in carrying newborn lambs up or down hills in the Italian Alps during the yearly move from higher pastures to lower pastures.
Because the ones are so small, they are unable to make the journey on their own, thus the strong and sound nannies help to reunite the little ones with their mothers.
Pelorus Jack, the Guide Dolphin
A dolphin named Pelorus Jack is an iconic guide-porpoise that helped aid ships through a stretch of the Cook Strait in New Zealand. He would join unite with the vessels at the entrance of the Pelorus Sound and swim alongside the boats, riding their wake.
The dolphin developed a sort of following and seemed to favor certain boats, making him something of a legend. Once, a man aboard a ship tried to shoot him, thus prompting public demands for some form of legal protection for the dolphin, which was issued.
Ducks Used to Remove Weeds
Numerous communities have used ducks and geese to control pest and weed populations. The ducks and geese eat the weeds and pests as well as release excrements into the fields which greatly improves soil fertility and results in higher yields and decreased costs.
This system has a lot of benefits for the ecosystem and the preservation of biodiversity. Farmers in Asian countries have given these animals their fruitful jobs, most especially in rice plantations.
Thailand Monkeys are Trained to Harvest Coconuts
If you’ve coconut oil or meat in recent times, there’s a likely chance that it was imported from Thailand and fetched by a monkey. It is common in Thailand to raise and train pigtailed macaques to pick coconuts and has been a strategy for 400 years. A male monkey can collect 1,600 coconuts per day while a female can collect 600, while the average human can collect around 80.
Animal rights group are opposed to this kind of work and view it as distressing, as the monkeys are taken from the wild and are perhaps chained and forced into labor.
Shellfish as Indicators for Water Toxicity Levels
Because mussels require well-oxygenated and clean water and low levels of chemical and physical impurities to prosper. They are incredibly sensitive to pollutants and because of this they are ideal for monitoring water supply in Poznań’s water supply.
When they water is clean and nice the mussels completely open. When the water quality drops, they close very quickly and slow down their metabolism. A circuit was glued to the mussel’s shell which alerts a computer that it may be time to shut off the water supply.
Camel Mobile Clinics
In Kenya’s Samburu County, harsh climate conditions and half of the population living below the poverty line and without sufficient sanitation is problematic. In order to reach residents in this remote region, camel mobile clinics have been hailed as a sustainable solution.
The camels are packed with the necessary medical supplies and are able to serve 30 to 80 people. This provides basic healthcare and treatment for common diseases such as malaria. They make about four trips a year.
Herding dogs, also known as stock dogs, shepherd dogs, sheepdogs, or working dogs, are a type of dog that has been trained to herd farm animals. Their general characteristics are that they are industrious, athletic, energetic, focused, loyal, and very intelligent.
Common herding groups include Australian Shepherds, Belgian Malinois, Berger Picards, Border Collie, Belgian Sheepdogs, Bergamasco Sheepdogs, and more.
Emotional Support Dogs for Cheetahs
It isn’t just humans that need some emotional support from human’s best friend, cheetahs enjoy their company too! Apparently, the giant cat experience anxiety and are instinctively shy. Due to this, it is difficult to get them to mate.
That is where is a dominant dog is helpful. When a cheetah cub is paired with a dog, the cat looks to the dog for cues and can learn to model their behavior which results in calm and happy-go-lucky energy that can then result in breeding.
Since 1967, the Navy has been training sea lions and dolphins for military porpoises…purposes, such as mine clearing, recovery missions, and force protection. The United State Navy Marine Mammal Program deployed military dolphins during the Vietnam War and as recently as the 2003 invasion of Iraq
The dolphins can use biological sonar to locate a mine or weapon beneath the surface. It is then given a buoy to mark the location so passing ships know to avoid the spot.
Canary in the Coal Mine
You may have heard the phrase “canary in the coal mine” once or twice before, did you ever wonder where it came from? John Scott Haldane came up with the idea in 1895 to place a warm-blooded animal in the coal mines to detect carbon monoxide.
The canaries were used as early warning signals for toxic gases as the birds are more sensitive and would become sick more quickly, thus alerting the miners. The men would escape and apply protective respirators, and the birds, which were kept in cages, were also provided dedicated oxygen tanks.
Miniature Horses as Service Dogs
When we think of service animals the animal that probably comes to mind is a well-trained dog, however according to the 2010 Americans with Disability Act , miniature horses can be individually trained to work and perform tasks for people with disabilities.
The stipulations include whether the miniature horse is housebroken, if the facility can accommodate the size, weight, and type of horse, and whether or not the horse compromises safety requirements. Mini horses should be 24-34 inches in height and around 70-100 pounds in weight.
Monkeys for Mobility Impairment
Capuchin monkeys are trained to help adults with mobility impairment. The “monkey helpers” as they are called help to retrieve dropped objects (such as a remote controller or phone), opening bottles, turning switches on and off, repositioning limbs, turning pages, or scratching itches.
The monkeys are only trained to perform the tasks at home and are not like service animals in that they can go wherever their human goes. The monkeys are meant to stay at home.
Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office
The very distinguished title of Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office goes to the official resident cat of the prime minister of the United Kingdom. Various cats have been employed at 10 Downing Street as “mouser” as well as house pet since the 1500’s, however the first official Chief Mouser title was given to Larry the cat in 2011 by the British government.
In 2004 a study was conducted that showed that voter’s perception of the elite kitty was not above partisanship.
If you’ve been to New York or some large city, you’ve likely seen police officers riding atop a horse as they patrol. Police horses are a great option for cops as they make for fantastic “moving walls” and can sidestep alongside people in groups or alone.
Furthermore, and perhaps most importantly, horses are tall! The vantage point given to police officers from patrolling on a horse is a significant advantage on patrol in large crowds.
With the advances in technology this role is no longer required from our feathered friends, but it is fascinating that carrier pigeons were once a reliable and utilized source of communication.
Pigeons played a large part in World War One delivering important messages between troops. Over 100,000 carrier pigeons were used and had a 95% success rate with getting their messages through.
Felicia the Ferret
In the early 1970’s, scientists at Femilab ran into technical issues with their particle accelerator and came upon an interesting solution. They purchased a $35 ferret named Felicia to use a low-tech and low-cost solution to clear their machine’s cluttered tubes.
Felicia was meant to be a short-term solution while the engineering team built a robotic replacement. The 15-inch ferret wore a diaper and a collar as she traversed through the particle accelerator and enjoyed an early retirement.
They say it’s hard to break into the world of modeling, but some have a leg up, or in this case four. A Shiba Inu named Bodhi holds the title as the “most stylish dog in the world” after his humans dressed him up as a gag and posted it to Facebook.
The gag snowballed into the Bodhi becoming the dog in Menswear Dog Inc., with hundreds of thousands of followers, countless magazine covers, and his human quitting their jobs! What a good boy.
Cheesecake the Capybara
Cheesecake the capybara of Rocky Ridge Refuge, an Arkansas sanctuary for neglected and abused animals, has found her role as puppy nanny. Because she came into the sanctuary so young, she spent much of her time in the founder’s house with the dogs.
Cheesecake became familiarized with dogs and thus began caring for incoming orphaned puppies who arrived at Rocky Ridge Refuge. The capybara would sleep, eat, and generally care for the puppies.
Jocko Flocko, the NASCAR Monkey
Jocko Flocko was a co-driver to two-time Grand National Series champion and NASCAR Hall of Famer, Tim Flock, and was the only co-driver in history part of a win. Ted Chester, Flock’s sponsor, was looking to give the NASCAR driver an edge. He found the Rhesus monkey in an Atlanta pet shop as a bid to distract other drivers.
Sadly, during a race the monkey got loose and became very panicked in the car, resulting in Flocko losing the race. The monkey allegedly wouldn’t eat afterwards and had to be euthanized.
Ruby the Vet Nurse
Much like Cheesecake the capybara, Ruby went from rescued to rescuer. After not being up to task as a herder dog, her original owner wanted to put her down. However, she was spared and given to a sanctuary.
At first, she was very fearful and timid, but through kindness she blossomed into the vet nurse for the sanctuary. She welcomes new arrivals and acts as surrogate mom to various animals including small goats and pigs.
Magic the Therapy Horse
Aptly named, Magic the therapy horse is a miniature horse that visits assisted living facilities and spreads warmth and inspiration. One resident, who had not spoken for three years since her arrival, was moved by Magic’s sweetness, and went so far as to finally speak, “Isn’t she beautiful?”
Magic is 14 years old and is called upon to comfort survivors of tragedy and natural disasters, along with residents of hospitals and assisted living facilitates.
Bosco, the Mayor of Sunol CA
Although Bosco has since passed, Bosco Ramos was the mayor of a California town called Sunol, California. The black Labrador and Rottweiler was put into a 1981 election as a joke against two humans.
He beat both candidates and became known as America’s first dog-mayor. He led the annual Halloween parade and was often at Sunol events and social gatherings in a tuxedo.
A pit pony, or a mining horse as they were commonly known as, was a horse, pony, or mule that was used underground in mines. This practice was utilized in the mid-18th century until the mid-20th century.
The horses would typically work eight hour shifts during which they would haul 30 tons of coal into tubs on the underground mine railway. The last working mining horse was brought of out Drummond Coal Company coal mine at Westville in 1978.
Jake the Diamond Dog
This cutie patootie is named Jake and he is the office diamond dog at minor league baseball games. This golden retriever (how perfect) is best known for his abilities to retrieve bats, and balls and deliver water bottles and flowers.
Look at that good boy! We are sure this adds a lot of joy on game days.