Dogs are an integral part of many work force teams. We know them to work directly with police officers and fire fighters. But what’s the story with vineyard dogs? There’s no doubt about it! Winemaking is certainly going to the dogs! But don’t sweat it. Their contribution gets bigger and bigger every year and they are now a huge part of the quality control departments at outstanding wineries everywhere.
Dogs are usually trained to sniff out different types of drugs, harmful explosives, and missing people. So would it be possible to have dogs help out in the vineyard? Sonja Needs is training dogs to sniff out something devastating to grapes: phylloxera—an insect that kills vines. Needs works at Melbourne University as a viticulture and animal science researcher.
In fact, this isn’t utilizing some specialized breed of dog, Sonja says, “…the best dogs we can use are the ones that are slightly out of control.” This provides a more out of control dog purpose and a job. Once the dog has unlocked the ability and understanding of detection, it is possible to trigger it for just about anything, including vineyard pests. Needs is attempting to pinpoint the exact stage in the lifecycle that the dogs are able to recognize the bug. And she hopes dogs could be eventually used to patrol the edges of disease free zones and even sniff vineyard equipment before it is moved.
Here’s a suggestion, train the dogs to sniff out corked wines… wait, how about sniffing out a really tasty Cabernet… or maybe a Syrah. Couldn’t you take the dog into your favorite wine shop? After all, they are technically service dogs… Right?