• Muzzling a Menace, Bedbugs

  • Skeeter

    Anyone who has stayed in a motel during a horse show has had that curious if not dread feeling that bedbugs  might inhabit the room.  There now is a solution for hotel owners in the form of a canine.  This came to my attention in a newspaper  article about an unwanted dog taken in by an old acquaintance of mine, Catherine Tebbs.  Catherine is a dog trainer and lover of all four legged creatures.

    One of Catherines’s passions is her lovely paint mare, named Maggie, who five years ago needed a home.  At the time  I needed a second mare to breed and was delighted to find this stunning animal handed to me.  Catherine was focusing on her dog training and grooming business which left little time for Maggie.

    Maggie came to our farm, then was bred to a fine paint stallion and produced a fabulous. healthy foal.  Everyone was happy with this arrangement.  Catherine never would sell her beloved mare and always found a good temporary home for her.

    Catherine and I lost touched after the foal was weaned and we located another good home for Maggie.  This time it was to a farm which was using horses to help young men recover from substance abuse.  Maggie had another important job.

    Skeeter in high gear

    This is where the canine takes over from the equine part of the story.  I saw the article when it first appeared in the March 20,2012, Daily Progress.  Catherine now had rescued a high energy Parson’s Terrier after the death of his owner.  The article went onto say Catherine knew the dog needed a job.  She wanted to do something different than traditional obedience training with him.  Skeeter is a non shedding, wire haired dog  who is small enough to get into tight spaces.  Bred as a working dog with superior scenting and a relentless determination, he gets what he  seeks.

    So with some inspiration on Catherine’s part, Skeeter went off to three months of training, three days a week to learn the scent of bed bugs.  He finished with a certificate.  Catherine used a positive reinforcement method of food to train Skeeter. His feeding was limited to times when there was a scent of only one bug, the bed bug.  As bedbugs hide in linens and mattresses,  the human eye only can detect the bugs about 25% of the time.  The canine nose can find them about 75% of the time says Lindwood Shifflett of Intrastate Pest Control.

    Skeeter at work

    Fortunately after finding bedbugs there is a safe way to eliminate the bug, using heat and chemicals.  The bedbug does not carry a known disease and will do no more harm than produce a rash and itching from a bite.  But, they are not discriminating and will inhabit a hut or a five star hotel. If your want to prevent the critters from traveling home with you the best advise is to put your luggage in the bathtub while you are in your hotel room.  Bedbugs do not like slippery surfaces…… or dogs named Skeeter.