It has been said by dog trainers everywhere that one of the best things you can do is to give your dog a job.
While the object is to keep your dog active and obedient, there are some dogs out there that perform jobs that humans themselves cannot do.
Take for example Isis, a 3-year-old Catahoula mix. Isis is a bedbug-detection expert. She is employed by Cimex K9, a Phoenix-based company that is hired by residents and businesses to sniff out bedbugs.
Somewhat unsettling is the fact that business is good for Cimex K9 right now.
Keith Coddington started his bedbug business in early 2010 after co-owning a narcotics and contraband dog detection service, K9Scentwerks. About two years ago, Coddington started looking into other ways to use his dog training expertise.
"At that point, bedbugs looked like they might be an issue in the future," he said.
Right now, Cimex K9 does two or three inspections per day, Coddington said. One aspect of his business is to do proactive work for local businesses.
Bedbugs can be hard to detect because some people have little to no reaction to their bites. He said they are not the nimblest of creatures so they only feed when the human or animal is in an unchanging position.
"They will feed on you when you are sleeping or sitting down watching TV and it will only take a minute," Coddington said.
Fortunately for humans there is no proof that bedbugs can pass diseases between subjects. However, the bites can leave a nasty mark or irritate the skin and the bedbug population in a home or business can multiply quickly.
"It takes seven feeding sessions for a bedbug to grow to its full size," Coddington said.
A bedbug can grow up to 5 millimeters, or the size of an apple seed.
Coddington is certified through World Detector Dog Organization and a member of the International Association of Canine Professionals. He did not cross train any of his narcotic detection dogs, and the four dogs he has under his employ currently are all rescue dogs, including Isis.
"We train them from scratch, and the training never stops," Coddington said. "As a human, I have the eyes and the problem-solving capabilities. The dog has the nose and he uses it to find whatever he's looking for in order to be rewarded."
Isis' owner, Ahwatukee Foothills resident Karin Long, is also her co-worker. Long saw that Isis was a high energy dog, and she wanted to give her an outlet.
"Keith had called looking for a dog to train, and I said ‘the dog you want is my dog,'" Long said. "But then Isis got Valley Fever, and he told me that when she felt better he would not only train her, but train me as well."
Long, who also runs Balance Dog Training, is now certified to train dogs to detect bedbugs.
"I love it, I enjoy it," she said. "My dog has a job, and it's really interesting work."
Since January, Coddington said his company has never missed finding a bedbug when called out.
"We do a very thorough visual inspection as well," he said. "That's one thing with any type of detection dog; you always do a visual search in hot spots. Then you run the dog and watch their body language."
Although Cimex K9 does not exterminate the discovered bedbugs, they do recommend different ways to dispose of them. The best, according to Coddington, is a thermal treatment that involves heating the entire home to around 150 degrees and letting it sit for several hours.
"We've never found anything in post inspection with thermal treatment," he said. "Heat is expensive to do but in the long run it ends up being cheaper because when you heat the whole structure there is no place for them to hide."
Chemical treatment won't kill the eggs, he said, and bedbugs can be resistant to it.