The fourth annual Auburn All-Star Lecture Series, which consists of a variety of presentations by Auburn’s best and brightest, kicked off with a talk by the Canine Performance Sciences program advisor and former interim director, Jim Floyd.
Auburn University has been involved with canine research, focusing primarily on olfactory detection, for nearly 25 years. Throughout their history though, the mission has remained the same: to defend the nation and society.
One recently patented technology developed by the program is known as the Dynamic Canine Tracking Method for Hazardous and Illicit Substances, or as most refer to it, Vapor Wake technology.
While most bomb-sniffing dogs can only locate static targets, Vapor Wake dogs have been trained to follow the moving scent of an explosive. This ability makes the canines’ aptitude to track down a bomb much more effective.
In reference to the Boston Marathon bombings of 2013, Floyd said, “We firmly feel confident that if one of our dogs had been in that area, they would have nabbed those guys.”
The Canine Performances Sciences program has fostered a commercial partnership with AMK9 Academy, a company that further trains and markets the K9 partners. Through this organization, many of the Auburn dogs can go on to work across the country.
This branch of the College of Veterinary Medicine has expanded by introducing more dogs through its breeding program, which consists of six phases.
First, top-rated detector canines in the program are selected for breeding. However, an adult dog’s success as a detection animal is only a slight indicator of how their progeny will perform, so further evaluation must be performed on the offspring.
The next step is the pregnancy and whelping phase, in which students and residents from the veterinary school are able to work with the dogs by performing tasks such as monitoring fetal heart rates and early pregnancy diagnoses.
Phase three is the development of the puppies, starting from birth to 6 weeks.
“We start socializing them with different people and different sites and sounds very early on because we know that early development affects their later success,” Floyd said.
The second stage of puppy development, phase four, starts when the canines are 6 weeks old. The puppies are introduced to a range of situations and stimuli. Auburn students can even walk the puppies during the week for class credit.
Phase five is the third stage of puppy development, which starts at six months. The puppies are introduced to a prison-training program, in which carefully selected inmates are each paired with an Auburn dog. Throughout the months, they participate in their dog’s formal training.
The final phase consists of an evaluation, where the dogs’ physical fitness and psychological health are assessed. The canines then go on to several different programs or agencies.
Other olfactory research conducted by the Canine Performance Science program focuses on pinpointing dangerous elements, such as threatening wildlife or viruses.
“The dog is mobile, the dog can be trained, the dog has exquisite ability to distinguish and discriminate odors and the dog wants to please us if we know how to get that all together,” Floyd said.
The program is looking for volunteers from the public to work with these puppies. If you are interested, contact Lela Lofton at firstname.lastname@example.org.[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]