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Byline: MIKE LOCKLEY Staff Reporter

MEET the mutts who can defi-nitely see the wood for the trees.

That's because they're the world's only hounds trained to sniff out... DRY ROT.

And believe it or not, they're not rot-tweilers.

Border collie Meg and springer spaniel Jess are at the pawfront of a unique Black Country company which uses the hounds for building surveys.

These dogs always bark up the right tree.

The "special branch" mutts and handler Mark Doggett make up Enviro-Dogs, a Wolverhampton business that has been signed up by Rentokil Property Care.

Four-year-old Meg and Jess, just 18 months old, can detect dry rot at its earliest stage, when it's not visible to the human eye.

And that's a skill not to be sniffed at.

Berwyn Evans, product manager for Rentokil Property Care, said: "They may be cuddly, but the contribution these canines will make to our team should not be downplayed.

"Dry rot can be incredibly destructive, particularly for historical buildings. Early detection means that they can be treated before they suffer irreparable damage, helping to preserve them for the future enjoyment of others."

Both dogs have gone through a year-long training programme where aids scented with dry rot were used. Dry rot is a fungus that attacks wood in relatively dry conditions. Left untreated, it threatens the structure of a building. While a normal survey can spot the signs, the problem can reach a critical stage before it becomes obvious.

By relying on their noses, Meg and Jess are able to sniff out the fungus in its early stages, meaning it can be treated and destroyed before it becomes a serious problem.

Mr Doggett believes there are certain attributes that make the pair right for the role.

"Breed is not too important when looking for dogs which can do this job. What you're looking for is a dog with a high play drive, that's energetic, obedient and has an excellent sense of smell."

Wet rot is a different story, however. That's got to be a job for a puddle - sorry, poodle.


They nose their business... border collie Meg and springer spaniel Jess are trained to sniff out dry rot in properties and homes

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Feb 8, 2015
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