Sarah Kane ’19 spent the spring semester in Bristol, England, in a behavioral biology program studying animal welfare and the laws that surround wild animals, and clinical animal behavior focusing on cats and dogs. Kane also wrote a dissertation with Dr. Nicola Rooney on the accuracy or specificity and sensitivity of diabetic alert dogs.
This summer Kane is continuing to pursue her interest in working dogs with an internship at the Working Dog Center, a research center in Philadelphia that trains and studies scent detection dogs. They train dogs starting at 8 –weeks-old in all areas of scent detection. The Center has graduates all over the country doing all sorts of jobs including human search and rescue, K9 officer, cancer detection, bed bug detection, and drug and bomb detection.
Here’s more about her internship.
Tell me about your internship this summer.
This summer, I am a co-leader of the Penn Vet Working Dog Center’s camp for middle school students. The camp is called Canine Handler Academy. The mission of this camp is to “educate and inspire the next generation of veterinarians, working dog handlers, and canine enthusiasts.”
What’s an average day for you like?
My day starts at 7:30 a.m. at the Center. My co-leader and I make sure all of the spaces and dogs are reserved for when the camp needs them. The campers and the dogs arrive by 9 a.m. Every day at camp is different but we have a number of activities, which include hands-on dog activities like shaping exercises and demonstrations which the students get to watch.
Day to day, I help teach the campers about dog training, body language, and scent work. I also help care for the dogs that we use for the camp and I communicate daily with parents and trainers at the center to make sure everything is running smoothly.
Hometown: Philadelphia, Pa.
High School: Germantown Friends School
The camp runs for a total of four weeks. The first two weeks are beginner sessions and the third week is an advanced week focusing on search and rescue dogs. For these three weeks as a co-leader, I created the daily schedule based on a prior curriculum and worked with trainers and interns to make sure the camp had the support it needed. For the final week of camp, my co-leader and I got to create our own curriculum and schedule, including a research project that will help the center.
What drew you to this internship?
I have known for a long time that I want to work with dogs and so when I was given the opportunity to work at the Center this summer I jumped at it.
The Working Dog Center is a wonderful, fun, and positive place, and even though my days are long, I really do enjoy every minute of my time there. They make each person feel appreciated and important to the goals of the Center, which are all about training detection dogs for various tasks.
What do you hope to learn from this experience?
I believe the best way to learn something thoroughly is to teach it to someone else. By teaching these students the basics of working dog training I am becoming a better trainer. My understanding deepens each day I get to work with these great kids. However, I think my ultimate goal for this job is to pass my love of working dogs and training on to younger people.
The field of working dogs is currently expanding; it is so important to bring young people from many different backgrounds into the community so that their ideas can be shared and so they can learn from great minds that are already in the field working.
I also love working with the dogs. Any day I get to spend with dogs is a good day in my book!