News World Russia’s military dolphins and other animals with important jobs
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Russia’s military dolphins and other animals with important jobs

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It’s enough to make that icon of American innocence – Flipper – very angry indeed.

Russia is planning to recruit and train a crack team of dolphins for military purposes.

The use of dolphins to detect submarines and plant explosives on enemy vessels has not been seen since the height of the Cold War, but now it appears those days are back.

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According to reports, Russia is looking for three male and two female dolphins with – wait for it – perfect teeth and no physical impairments.

Perhaps they’re really holding a casting call for a Russian Flipper reboot – ‘флиппер’.

The Russian military has opened the bidding on a contract to deliver the mammals to the port city of Sevastopol by August.

Flipper ran from 1964 until 1967. Photo: AAP
The original Flipper ran from 1964 until 1967. Photo: AAP

Retired colonel Viktor Baranets said Americans had pioneered the use of dolphins to serve their military needs.

“Americans looked into this first,” Baranets told AFP.

“But when Soviet intelligence found out the tasks the US dolphins were completing in the 1960s, the defence ministry at the time decided to address this issue.”

The US used dolphins primarily to protect ships, rescue personnel, recover lost equipment and detect underwater mines.

Of course, animals – most notably the horse – have been used by armies for centuries.

But dogs are also an invaluable aid to militaries around the world.

The anti-tank dog was used by Russia between 1930 and 1996.

The canines were strapped with explosives which detonated on impact, killing the dog in the process.

In more recent times dogs have been used to detect explosives rather than deliver them, with many used to sniff out bombs in Afghanistan and Iraq.

But working animals aren’t limited to the military – here are the other brave beasts helping humans in important pursuits.

1. Piper the airport guard dog

Piper is a guard dog at Traverse City’s Cherry Capital Airport’s runway in Michigan.

Planes hurtle towards Piper at frightening speeds, but the seven-year-old border collie has no fear.

His job is to keep the airport’s runways free of wildlife – preventing large birds from hunting in the path of aircraft – and he works four 10-hour shifts per week.

Photo: airportk9.org
Piper injured a paw when he jumped from a vehicle to chase an owl. Photo: airportk9.org

2. Jedi the Diabetic Alert Dog

When seven-year-old type 1 diabetic sufferer Luke Nuttall’s blood sugar levels dropped dangerously low, it was his loyal labrador Jedi who saved his life.

Luke was sleeping next to his mother Dorrie when his glucose level fell to a dangerous 57 mg/dl.

Thankfully, Jedi – who began training as a diabetic alert dog (DAD) at just 11 weeks – was quick to respond, smelling Luke’s condition and jumping on his mother to wake her up.

“Luke was laying right next to me, just inches from me, and without Jedi I would have had no idea that he was dropping out of a safe range,” Dorrie wrote in a Facebook post on March 4 this year.

Luke and his loyal dog Jedi. Photo: Facebook
Luke Nuttall and his loyal dog Jedi. Photo: Facebook

3. Chief mouser of the cabinet office

‘Chief mouser’ is the very important title given to the official resident cat of 10 Downing Street, the residence of the British Prime Minister.

While running the country, David Cameron and his peers can’t afford to be distracted by rodents, which is why having a feline sidekick is imperative.

Only three cats – Humphrey, Sybil and current mouser Larry – have been given the prestigious title.

Larry has been mouser since February 2011, when he was adopted from the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home.

In 2012, there was controversy when reports emerged that Larry had been sacked in favour of Chancellor George Osborne’s tabby cat, Freya.

Thankfully, Freya left Downing Street in 2014 and Larry was restored to his post.

Chief Mouser Larry keeps watch over No. 10 Downing Street. Photo: Getty
Chief Mouser Larry keeps watch over No.10 Downing Street. Photo: Getty

4. Landmine detector rats

While many view rats as carriers of disease and filth and little else, it turns out the large rodents are seriously useful when it comes to sniffing out explosives and potentially fatal diseases.

Dutch company APOPA is a Belgian non-government organisation dedicated to training African giant-pouched rats to smell land mines and tuberculosis.

Since its creation in 1998, the organisation has managed to detect more than 9000 cases of TB with the help of the rats,

A landmine detector rat in Mozambique. Photo: Getty
A landmine detector rat in Mozambique. Photo: Getty

5. Sniffer dogs

They may be cute, but those adorable little beagles that like to clamber over your bags on the carousel are sure to make scores of drug smugglers very sweaty each year.

These little guys have been used by Australia’s airports since 1992, and a good nose for trouble is essential.

There are more than 50 detector dogs working around Australia, in airports, ports, mail centres and cargo depots.

Sniffer beagles are unquestionably cute - and panic inducing if you've been naughty. Photo: Getty
Sniffer beagles are unquestionably cute – and panic-inducing if you’ve been naughty. Photo: Getty

6. Police dogs

Most major Australian cities have a canine section in its police force.

These dogs have an incredibly busy existence and can be used for apprehending violent offenders, explosive and narcotic detection as well as locating weapons or stolen property.

But we already knew that – we’ve seen Turner and Hooch.

A police dog and handler work during the Lindt cafe siege in Sydney. Photo: Getty
A police dog and handler work during the Lindt cafe siege in Sydney. Photo: Getty

7. Guide dogs

Thousands of visually impaired Australians depend on a guide dog in order to move around safely.

In the course of its working life, the average guide dog will walk around 9000kms in eight to 10 years.

After that, its handler has the option to keep the dog as a pet.

Even guide dog puppies can't save people from political missteps. Photo: Getty
Even guide dog puppies can’t save people from political missteps. Photo: Getty

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