Fun, Food, Pets and Travel

The Dog Connection

Annie Brody

The Dog Connection – Twenty-first century Working Dogs

For years the term “working dog” referred to dogs that helped humans do their daily work—herding sheep and cattle, guarding homesteads and property, pulling sleds for transportation in snow climates, perhaps even rescuing people in water. But in the post-9-11 world, dogs are being trained to detect bombs, perform search and rescue or recovery, assist disabled people, alert their guardians to the onset of seizures and even sniff out cancerous cells before they can be visibly detected by sophisticated medical technology.

Listen to our conversation with Dr. Cindy Otto, Exec Director of the new Penn Vet Center for Working Dogs, at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine and learn about this brave new world of work for today’s brave new dogs. Discover how this pioneering program is researching genetics and analyzing physical and behavioral traits to optimize the success and well being of detection dogs. Hear about their puppy program of early training designed to develop optimal strategies for screening, rearing and training detection dogs.

Dr. Otto is a board-certified emergency and critical care veterinarian and has been involved in disaster medicine as an active member of the Pennsylvania Urban Search and Rescue Task Force 1 from 1994 to 2010. She began monitoring the health and behavior of Urban Search and Rescue canines in October 2001 after the 9/11 attacks. This work inspired her to establish the Penn Vet Working Dog Center.
She is also involved in dog sports (flyball, agility, and tricks) with her rescued Bichon mix, Dolce. You can watch her fun and informative instructional videos on teaching your dog tricks at