Dogs With Cool Jobs #02:
"Bugsy is an 8 year old Bed Bug Sniffing Beagle. We inspect houses, apartments, offices, call centers, court houses, emergency vehicles....you name it, we've probably inspected it for bed bugs. He's been doing it for his whole life and he LOVES it!" - Becca Hoffman
Hometown: Regina, SK, Canada
Favorite off work activity: Agility
How common is it to use dogs for bed bug detection?
It's less common to use dogs to detect bed bugs in Canada than it is in the USA. Bugsy is only one of about 4 working bed bug dogs in our province.
What makes dogs more effective at this job than using other methods?
Bed bug sniffing canines are faster at inspecting a residence and far more accurate than a human inspection. A thorough manual inspection of a house can take 45 minutes with less accuracy, whereas a canine can do it in 5-10 minutes. Bugsy found 1 bed bug egg behind the cover of an electrical outlet on a wall within 20 seconds of entering the room.
How did you and Bugsy get into this specific job and why? How old was Bugsy when he started training for this?
I wanted a job where I could work with my dog so I started working with a pest control company specializing in bed bug detection and eradication. Bugsy was trained, similarly to the drug sniffing dogs, specifically for this job. He was fully trained by 11 months old and he still loves every minute of it.
Describe the search process. What do you do when he finds the bugs?
We inspect a room very methodically; around the perimeter first, then around and on top of each piece of furniture. When he finds bed bugs, he scratches at the source of the odour, and gets rewarded heavily with food and praise. It's basically a party when he finds bed bugs.
How long does it take to search one bed?
It takes Bugsy about 15 seconds to search a bed.
Where is the most surprising place to find bed bugs other than beds?
The most surprising places we've found bed bugs? In the speaker of an old tube TV, a cubicle in an office, a pair of stinky shoes, and a laptop computer.
What is Bugsy’s favorite part of his job?
Bugsy's favourite part of the job is when he gets to climb on the narrow backs of couches and chairs...I'm pretty sure he's part monkey.
Has he ever randomly tracked some down when you’re not on the job? If so, what do you do when he accidentally finds some?
He's never, thankfully, tracked any down while not on the job. However, part of the job is having to be regularly tested to be sure he's still accurately searching for bugs. While doing testing in a few hotel rooms, he continued to alert to an area where no vials of bed bugs had been hidden. When we manually inspected the area to see why, we found 1 live adult bed bug hidden deep down in the crease of the couch. We passed the test with flying colours.
It sounds like you’ve inspected all types of venues- Where is the most interesting place you’ve ever inspected?
Interesting places we've inspected? Court houses, jails, work camps, firetrucks, thrift stores, libraries, warehouses, movie theaters, and a cast on a child's broken arm.
Do you travel far for this job or stick mostly to your town?
We travel often, usually within 2 hours of our city. The furthest we've gone is a 4 hour drive, and we've even done inspections in a neighbouring province.
Do you work with or train other pups at this scent?
Bugsy has a canine coworker named Scout who loves the job as well. She's a 7 year old beagle. Bugsy is nearing retirement, so we are on the hunt for our next beagle to begin bed bug detective training.
Any scary/funny/weird moments that stands out while you and Bugsy were working?
Scary moment? We were asked to inspect an 100 year old apartment building that had caught fire 6 months prior. The whole building was vacant and they wanted to know if it was clear of bed bugs before beginning renovations. It was something straight out of a horror movie. A cold, quiet building with paint peeling and ceilings sagging, long dark spooky hallways with no lights, a tricycle sitting in the middle of dark room...I'm pretty sure it was haunted.
Weird/funny moments? When people answer the door in nothing but their underwear, or when they feel it's necessary to show us the bug bites on the more....um...personal areas of their bodies... Once, while inspecting a high school dorm, Bugsy found a student's alcohol stash hidden in a vent beside their top bunk. The student got in a heap of trouble, and the rumor spread that Bugsy would be able to find whatever contraband they had.
Thank you Becca Hoffman for taking the time to share Bugsy's story! We loved learning about Bugsy and his unique line of work.