Press Centre

Secret Life of Dogs

  • Episode: 

    2 of 3

  • Transmission (TX): 

    Tue 14 Feb 2017
  • TX Confirmed: 

  • Time: 

    9.00pm - 10.00pm
  • Week: 

    Week 07 2017 : Sat 11 Feb - Fri 17 Feb
  • Channel: 

They’re loyal, fun, loving and brilliant companions, so it’s no wonder they’re man’s best friend. Yet they descend from the wildest of predators. So how did the much-feared wolf become the much-loved dog in the heart of the human’s home?
To find out, this three-part series travels all over the world to bring viewers the most remarkable stories and the latest scientific discoveries that reveal how dogs have become man’s closest companions, unrivalled working partners and trusted family members. This is dogs as you’ve never seen them before.
The second episode takes a look at the working dog, the age-old relationship that has made man and dog a formidable team. The latest science is revealing how their super senses can help humans in their work and how the future for working dogs may lie in their emotional intelligence. Only now are scientists proving that dogs are more like people than was ever thought possible.
Over in California, there’s a new dog on the block who’s making waves - Ricochet the surf dog, whose love of the ocean has led to her becoming a therapeutic assistance dog, encouraging people with disabilities and special needs to try surfing with her.
Owner Judy said: “Ricochet’s just able to connect with kids with special needs on a really deep level. She bonds with people instantly; she’s able to really heal them, and I sometimes see a transformation immediately.” 
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As times have changed, traditional roles for working dogs have become harder to find, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t new ways for them to apply their many skills – sometimes with surprising results. 
In Ohio is Midge, the world’s first police chihuahua, partner of the past 10-years to County Sherriff, Dan McClelland. Whilst there’s no doubt that big dogs are more intimidating, ironically Midge’s greatest strength is her size. Aided by her nose that is sensitive enough to detect 10 different types of narcotic, she can squeeze into the tiny corners other dogs just can’t reach.
Dan said: “It’s not the most macho thing to be a police officer with a dog that might look like she might belong to Paris Hilton, but you don’t have to be the biggest kid on the block to do good things.”
A series of high profile busts have earned Midge an honourable place on the team. 
The sheepdog is perhaps the best example of a dog with an innate instinct for a particular job – instincts that humans have shaped to work for them.
Like all dogs, the natural instinct that collie Joey inherited from his wolf ancestors is to hunt down prey, but generations of breeding and training have adapted this impulse into a desire to herd sheep, without hurting them.
Joey’s owner Anita said: “We just couldn’t easily do the work we do with without Joey. He is just naturally working the sheep, trying to bring them back to me.”
Scientists have discovered that dogs have a wider field of vision than humans, and long-nosed breeds like collies have a special area on the retina that gives them superb panoramic vision, enabling Joey to detect the slightest movement even at the edges of the flock. 
It’s not just their superior vision that make dogs ideal working companions, they’ve also made some amazing physical adaptations that have helped them process smell, with scientists having recently discovered that dogs’ long noses are packed with more than 200-million scent receptor cells - humans only have five-million. 
When you have a nose this sensitive, there are all kinds of clever ways it can be put to work, sometimes with life changing results, as is seen with Holly, a rescue dog who’s made it to the grand old age of 13, thanks to a second chance with new owner Amy.
As an old lady, Holly was entitled to the quiet life, but as soon as she realised Amy was living with Type 1 diabetes, she sprang into action.
One night Amy went to bed as normal, but in the early hours she was suddenly woken by an anxious Holly. Amy said: “She jumped up on my bed and started snuffling…She wouldn’t let up…She knew that there was something wrong and that she needed to tell me about it. I would have probably been in hospital the following day if I had just slept through and I didn’t have Holly.” 
Also in tonight’s episode is the only contender for the world’s top swimming dog - the mighty newfoundland, the breed to which mother-of-four Toni owes her life after getting caught up in a rip current, and in Norway, the huskies who are able to work in an environment in which humans would struggle to survive.