While the big dogs look the part of a detection dog, people always look at us totally incredulously when we produce Minki to work. As a very small Miniature Dachshund, she certainly is not your typical detection dog. Its all about what is inside the dog rather than what they look like on the outside. She has the focus, and drive we look for in excess and can carry on for hours. While her short little legs are a bit of an impedement to working in rocky country, she manages remarkably well in the field. Her real strength though is in our "lab". She doesnt get bored at all with the repetitive nature of the work, and her enthusiasm is just as high at the end of every session as it was in the beginning.
Where Minki's size worked in her favour was working down in the Klein Karoo on a Riverine Rabbit project run by the Endangered Wildlife Trust. We had not counted on quite how hard and savage the Karoo bushes were, which made it quite hard for Gala and I to move through some of the dense patches. Minki, however, had no problem, and could duck and dive under the bushes, and is small enough to fit into any hole that a rabbit could fit through. Despite the fact that Dachshunds were developed as hunting dogs, Minki is so focussed on her work that she pays no attention to small animals in the bush. We saw her on one occasion on that trip actually sniff within a few centimetres of a mouse and keep going straight past it. If it wasnt going to earn her the ball, she simply was not interested. That is the focus we want for dogs working off leash in wildlife areas. Another advantage with Minkis diminuitive size and her elongated shape is that she dissipates heat much faster than a big dog can, so she can work later into the day, as the heat begins to build.
So, yes, seriously, she IS a sniffer dog and very good one at that!