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This article was published 7/9/2011 (2143 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
While some dogs sniff out drugs, this one sniffs out bugs.
Patches and her owner, Valerie Arpin, are partners in The Winnipeg Dog, which offers a proactive canine bedbug detection service.
While many pest management companies have dogs on retention in Winnipeg, Arpin said most of them fly the animals in for jobs from other cities.
"As far as I know, she’s the first bedbug dog (based in Winnipeg)," said Arpin, who lives in St. Boniface
Arpin began operating her business in June, although Patches — who was trained at the Florida Canine Academy with master trainer Bill Whitstine — has more than 800 hours of training under her collar.
Much like a drug dog, Patches uses her nose to detect bedbugs and then signals to Arpin once the pests have been located by sitting and pointing with her nose.
The duo have sniffed out bedbugs in a number of Winnipeg location, including hotels and apartments.
They’ve also worked for the city, and partnered with Abell Pest Control in the West End.
Shaun Jeffrey, Abell’s branch manager for Manitoba, said it was his clients who initially requested the option of a dog for bedbug detection.
"Everyone wants a different option for their site, and Valerie provided a good option," he said.
While properly-trained humans can detect bedbugs much of the time, sometimes the situation calls for a different approach, Jeffrey explained.
"When there’s a large area to cover in a short time, fortunately a dog is more effective," he said.
Arpin agreed bedbug dogs are known for their speed and precision.
"They can do a standard hotel room in less than two minutes and are very accurate — 98% accurate," she said, adding bedbug detection dogs are used more frequently in larger cities like Toronto.
Arpin first became intrigued by canine bedbug detection about four years ago, as she watched a news report about an apartment block that had to be completely evacuated because of the pests.
A bedbug dog was brought in to help, and Arpin was enthralled.
"I just watched the dog in action, and I’ve always been a pet lover, and I just though ‘Wow’."
Her journey with Patches has been a long one; Arpin originally hoped to train her own dog for detection, but the staff at the Florida Canine Academy decided he didn’t have the right temperament.
Patches was found in an animal shelter in Florida, and Arpin said she’s taken a while to warm up to being loved.
"She wasn’t an affectionate dog when I first got her," Arpin recalled. "I think she didn’t know what it was like to be loved and cared for. She’s been bounced around the shelters most of her life."
Patches immediately took to bedbug detection, and Arpin said working with her furry colleague is a pleasure.
"When I’m working with her, I’m concentrated on her and I’m so impressed by what she can do," she said.
To contact The Winnipeg Dog, call Arpin at 231-1211 or email firstname.lastname@example.org