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Old Photos & Mold Dogs • A Love Story

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

By Jason Earle Google+

I recently sat down and shuffled through several boxes of old family photos, putting aside the ones I’m going to send off to a great little company I just discovered, called ScanCafe. They very inexpensively scan and repair old prints, slides and negatives by hand. I love the idea of getting my old pictures digitized as a way to “back up” these priceless memories, but it’s also the simplest way to easily share them with loved ones and future generations. I ordered their Gift Box, which allows you to stuff as many photos as you can fit into it for $150, postage prepaid and fully insured. I got at least 500 pictures into the box comfortably. It will be 4-6 weeks till I get them back but you’d have a hard time paying a small family of Malaysian pygmies so little to do so much. Not even Nike could pull that off.


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Most of the shots I put aside to be sent away were from my early childhood, some from before I was born. At the end of this epic sorting exercise, my lovely and loving counterpart, Shannon, commented on the nearly ubiquitous presence of dogs and other furry critters in these faded images of my family and friends. Sure enough, dogs were always a part of our world. I cannot recall a time when we didn’t have at least one, if not three and sometimes even more! They were seemingly always flanked by their requisite feline companions too, not to mention the horses, rabbits, goats, turtles, hamsters and occasional goldfish.

My father used to answer the phone, “Earle’s emporium and petting zoo!”

I am not kidding.

Neither was he.

It was a great way to grow up, except for the fact that I was allergic to most of our pets, but this never really stopped me from spending as much time as I could with them, especially the dogs. The three main players in my early memories were Brandy, Polo and Lady (seen in the pictures above and below). We’d spend countless hours running through the woods or we’d just as happily find ourselves curled up together on the sofa watching The Dukes of Hazzard. The relationship was profoundly deep. They took care of me and I them. There was an overwhelming sense of comfort and mutual affection. I miss them terribly.

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The dogs were such a big part of my life as a kid that it should really come as no surprise I would gravitate toward a business which revolves around these fantastic creatures. Truth be told, the dogs we had when I was young were not really the trained type, rather they mostly had us trained. Don’t let the picture to the left fool you.

Until I began working with Oreo, I wasn’t even remotely aware of how incredibly diverse dogs’ abilities are. I now believe that dogs are much like humans in many ways and perhaps this is why we are so closely bonded to them. For example, most of us talk about one day retiring and being able to relax all day when, in fact, the very act of retirement often brings on depression, especially in men. This sudden lack of purpose can really send some people off the deep end. Dogs are much the same. They love to work. They love to help people. They love to have a purpose and they love the appreciation and approval they receive for a job well done. Who doesn’t? Also, we all love to grow and learn and there is no better way to do that than through doing something you enjoy. We learn best when we are having fun. Working dogs aren’t really working. They’re playing and learning at the same time. It just so happens that while they play they’re also purposeful and productive. What could be better? If only we humans could more easily find ways to play for a living. I think Mark Twain said it best, “The secret to success is making your vocation your vacation.”

It was Winston Churchill who said, “You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give.” In that vein, we have much to learn from dogs, not the least of which is tireless service to others in the name of love. As you might imagine, I have thought and read much on the subject of the relationship we share with these precious four-leggers. People send me articles nearly every day about dogs saving peoples’ lives and other amazing things that don’t make it onto the nightly news often enough. Everyone knows about dogs used in law enforcement to sniff out bombs and drugs, or those trained to assist the blind, and for search and rescue. Did you know that there are bed bug detection dogs? Seizure alert dogs? How about diabetic alert dogs? I just read a story about a dog trained to detect peanuts in public places to help protect an adorable little girl who is deathly allergic to this otherwise harmless little legume, which I love almost as much as Oreo does.

Our longstanding partnership with dogs dates back to ancient times. Even the mythological Orion had his hunting buddy beside him, Canus Major. The history of the relationship between Canis familiaris and homo sapiens is a rich and interesting one worthy of further discussion. I’ll have to post something on that in the months to come.

Inside a dog’s hypersensitive olfactory organ are upwards of 220 million receptors, compared to our measly five million, making their sense of smell significantly stronger than ours, by some measures 100 times more powerful. This fact makes me wonder why they are so overwhelmingly attracted to the stinkiest of stuff, but that’s another discussion altogether.

Mold Dogs do not sniff mold any more than a drug dog sniffs cocaine. They are actually smelling the microbial gases emanating from the mold growth, which generates the musty odor we equate with the presence of mold. Unlike human or even electronic noses, dogs can pinpoint the source of the smell with great ease, making our job ridiculously easy, eliminating the guesswork and reducing the size of the repairs and remediation to the smallest possible dimension. This saves time and money. Everybody wins.

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Invariably people ask us about the safety of the dogs. This is something that we take very seriously. Under no circumstance would we ever put our canine partners in harm’s way. Just to put this into perspective, Oreo sleeps in our bed, just as my dogs always have, as you can see in the picture to the right. (Yes, that’s me.) And she spends nearly every waking moment beside me too. If there was even the remotest chance that there was any risk to her health or well being, I would immediately take her out of service. She’s my baby and I would do anything for her. Absolutely anything.

To further explain how we protect them, according to our Mold Assessment Protocol, before we ever bring a Mold Dog into a building, we first do a visual inspection to determine if there are any potentially insurmountable distractions which would hinder the inspection or present a possible hazard. If so, we do not bring them into the building. Also, if there is visible mold growth, we don’t need to use the dogs since their sole purpose is to help sniff out the hidden stuff, so they are never directly exposed. When we do use them, it’s the briefest part of the inspection. The canine-assisted portion of a mold inspection performed by 1-800-GOT-MOLD? in a 5,000 square foot house takes no more than 15 minutes with an experienced dog and handler team. The rest of the time is spent talking with the clients and investigating what we found with the Mold Dog’s help and with our other tools while they wait comfortably in the (heated/air conditioned) van. It’s quite the cushy life being a professional dog in our world. They’ve got it pretty darn good if you ask me.

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For that matter, so do we. There’s really nothing like the lifestyle afforded by doing what we do the way we do it. Performing a couple of inspections a day, five days a week, provides a very, very comfortable living while allowing ample time to truly live a great life. Where else is walking your dog actually part of the job description? It’s a very touching experience when we help a family regain control of their health and and find peace of mind, and we do it all the time. When one person in a family heals the whole home heals. It’s an honor and a privilege to be able to provide such a powerful and lasting solution for people who are suffering in the very place where they should feel safest, and our customers love us for it. Oreo gets more holiday cards than I could have ever imagined.  And for very good reason.



For more about Oreo, visit her on Facebook.

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