FCI World Dog Show 2014 – Helsinki (FI), 8-10 August

The FCI main conformation event of the year is over and will remain in everybody’s mind as the symbol of what a perfectly well-organised dog show should be.

Year 2014 was for Finland the 125th anniversary of their creation. It was a superb reason for the Finns to apply for hosting the 2014 FCI World Dog Show, 16 years after having had the pleasure to meet the dog scene on the occasion of the 1998 FCI World Dog Show, with an interesting entry of 15,300 dogs.

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Y. De Clercq
FCI Executive Director
Working dog function in society

For centuries, dog has been used by human to do things he was unable to do by himself, like keeping herds or travelling long distance in particular difficult conditions in the North. Some kinds of use have become sports, like sled dogs, or many herd keeping dogs, which are now more used in leisure than in work. We do not forget the role of these dogs, their place, because we go on seeing their wonderful performance during competition. Aware of the fact that some senses, especially olfaction, are much more developed in dogs than in human beings, the human tries to teach “his best friend” things which can help him in his everyday life.

We thought we know these dogs. Everybody has in his mind search and rescue teams on rubble, finding somebody alive, or police dogs finding some explosives or arresting a criminal. But these dogs that save lives are scarcely put into light compared to their handler or to authorities. We forget that these dogs work everyday in our society, avoiding some trouble, finding a child lost in the wood or a park. We very often do not find a world about them in many news items, even if a working dog took part in it. Do we know that every year, some diabetic people are saved by their dogs that have been trained to detect the beginning of hypoglycaemia crisis? Not everybody knows about that, and not many people are aware of the number of lives saved by dogs every year.

Concerning the medical world dog has a more important place today. We all know about dogs for blind or disabled people because many associations speak about them and help people to know them. But some dogs are also trained to help deaf people (alerting them when a bell rings or a baby cries), some autistic children succeed in having a better life thanks to the dog and we almost never hear about them. Even doctors and biologists find in the dogs a good help: some cancer, for example bladder or prostate ones, can be earlier detected by dogs than by machine.

Thanks to its exceptional olfaction, the dog can also help human to know and protect his environment. Some dogs are then trained to detect some parasites in plants (like in palm trees in Abu Dhabi), or in buildings (for example in Korea). The environment can be treated before a massive infestation thanks to their work. Some other dogs are trained to find endangered species (like some turtles species in the Mojave Desert) and the dejection of some other ones (for example in the United States) to follow their population and protect them.

However, despite the high number of roles of working dogs in our society, they are still underestimated and it remains difficult to learn more about their abilities. Not many research, not many people are dealing with the way to improve their performance and help them during their missions. These dogs are athletes, these dogs have to work all around the world in either conditions, their needs have to be known to help them giving us the best and to allow the handler to work with his dog as long as possible.

Dr Delphine Clero
Breeding and Sport Medecine Unit

Ecole Nationale Vétérinaire d’Alfort, France

Link to the video (in English)
(recorded on November 11th, 2011, on the occasion of the FCI Cynological Days organised to celebrate FCI’s Centenary).