Getting to the rot of the problem: Abandoned labradors recruited by National Trust to sniff out dry rot in stately homes
- Sam and Wilson are the only two professional rot sniffer dogs in the UK
- They were both abandoned by previous owners
- The labradors seek out dry rot and sit down alerting building surveyors
By AARON SHARP
Two 'useless' dogs who were abandoned by their owners are now saving some of Britain's most historic homes after being hired by the National Trust to sniff out dry rot.
Labradors Sam and Wilson have been specially trained to alert surveyors to damage which is invisible to the human eye in stately homes.
The so-called 'rot hounds' have already saved conservationists hundreds of thousands of pounds by leading them to the early signs of dry rot at National Trust properties.
Specialist: Wilson goes to work sniffing out dry rot which even an experienced building surveyor such as Tim Hutton, above, may not be able to spot
Yellow labrador Sam and his black counterpart spent 12 months training for their new role after their previous owners gave them away.
Sam's former owners were fed-up with him being too boisterous while Wilson was retired as a shooting dog because he was afraid of guns.
They now sniff their way around historic houses and are trained to sit down when they detect a whiff of the fungus.
The labradors are the only two professional dry rot sniffers in Britain and happily carry out their work in return for chocolate rewards.
Sam and Wilson have been taken on by Hutton and Rostron Environmental Ltd, a Surrey-based historic building restoration firm which specialises in the environmentally friendly control of dry rot and decay.
Managing director James Hutton said: 'The dogs enjoy their jobs. It is a game for them.
Star employees: Wilson, left used to be a gun dog who was scared of guns and Sam was abandoned by his previous owners for being too boisterous
'They run in circles of decreasing size and hone into the area. Then they sit down.'
Both dogs were given away by their owners to Blue Cross animal rescue homes where they were then adopted by Hutton and Rostron.
Sam, seven, is based in Guilford, Surrey, and looks after properties in the south of Britain.
His latest assignment was finding dry rot in the 300-year-old basement of 17th Century National Trust property, Wimpole Hall, near Cambridge.
Cheap labour: The labradors are the only two professional dry rot sniffers in Britain and happily carry out their work in return for chocolate rewards
Collections manager, Lisa Voden-Decker, said: 'Sam's sniffing skills allowed him to sweep spaces and locate rot within concealed timber and masonry.'
Wilson, eight, lives near Kendal, Cumbria, with surveyor Peter Monaghan, 60, and hunts rot in the north.
Mr Monaghan said: 'A boisterous working dog is exactly what's needed for sniffing out anything, whether it's drugs, firearms or fungus.
'You need a very focused, single-minded animal determined to find something that usually can't be seen.
Top job: The labradors showed their worth when they helped to survey the 17th Century National Trust property, Wimpole Hall, near Cambridge, above
'Sam lives for the joy of working, praise from me - and the occasional doughnut.'
Serpula lacrymans, known as dry rot, flourishes where there is moisture, and leads to decay and deterioration of timber, but can be treated if caught early.
Hutton and Rostron have previously had Rot-dogs called into Windsor Castle, following the fire in 1992.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2439440/Abandoned-Labradors-recruited-National-Trust-sniff-dry-rot.html#ixzz2gPrGzzU6
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