5 Animals That Are on the Job

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Human beings aren’t the only ones who have to work to make a living, you know? Actually, ok, we are, but that hasn’t stopped us from using animals to aid us in our work for thousands and thousands of years. And even today there are myriad jobs around the planet for which our animal friends are better suited than any human, and indeed are better suited even than any machine we humans can create. Gone are the days when farmers relied exclusively on draft horses or oxen, and gone are the days when canaries were the watchdog (see what we did there?) of coalmine safety, but far from gone is the working animal.

5 Carrier Pigeons

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Did you know that carrier pigeons were still at work in the 21st century? The last “official” use of a pigeon to deliver a message happened in the first years of the new millennium, but nonetheless this ancient technique for delivering information over great distances remained in use well into the modern era. Carrier pigeons, AKA messenger pigeons or homing pigeons, have the ability to find their way “home” (to a familiar location) over great distances, and with rather efficient speeds, often covering hundreds of miles at a rate of fifty miles an hour.

4 Military Dolphins

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In one of the United States Military’s most innovative yet controversial programs, the Navy has put dolphins to work on behalf of the American armed forces. Like human beings, dolphins are highly intelligent creatures; they are also natural swimmers, something humans are not. Thus it was that the Navy puts these crafty cetaceans to work in a variety of ways. Dolphins can be fitted with cameras and sonar equipment to detect underwater hazards such as mines and even submerged soldiers, they can be trained to locate and friendly forces in distress, and, at least according to likely apocryphal rumor, they have even been trained to attack. The Russian navy also purportedly used dolphin “soldiers,” though their program seems to have ended in the late 20th century.

3 Busy Bees

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Without bees, your everyday diet would be radically different. Without bees, you would obviously not have any honey to enjoy. You would also have little or no supply of apples, almonds, avocados, oranges, cucumbers and much, much more! In fact, honeybees help to pollinate more than 100 common crops, a fact that has farmers, grocers and beekeepers alike losing sleep over the growing epidemic of Colony Collapse Syndrome, wherein huge numbers of bees drop dead from unclear causes.

2 Camel Caravans

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There are places on our planet where human beings must venture, but our technology can scarcely follow. For many of those hearty souls who cross the barren deserts of Arabia and Northern Africa, or plod down the mottled roads of India, the camel is still a vital part of trade and travel. Camel caravans not unlike those seen for thousands of years can still be seen today, carrying all manner of crops, goods and other sundries across vast expanses of the globe.

1 Dogs

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Perhaps more than any other animal, dogs play a vital role in myriad aspects of the workaday world. Some canines are trained as service animals for the blind or for people with diabetes or other diseases; dogs assist military and police units searching for explosives and other weapons; dogs sniff out drugs and other contraband, detecting such materials better than even the most advanced technologies could ever be made to. In short, dogs are not only our best friends, but some damn fine workers as well.

Steven John is a published novelist and competitive pole vault champion. (The latter is not true.) His writing runs the gamut from speculative fiction to essays fueled by a mix of mirth and derision. He has never been to Lisbon but, statistically speaking, is probably taller than you.

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