Jayna Hiffner says she couldn’t ask for a better co-worker than Kramer.
He never has anything negative to say. He is enthusiastic. And, boy, can he work like a dog.
Hiffner is a dog handler for Rose Pest Solutions. Her partner, Kramer, a Scottie and Cairn Terrier mix, is a trained to detect the scent of live bed bugs and viable eggs.
Friday is national Take Your Dog to Work Day. For her, every workday is.
“I have a friend that goes to work with me everyday,” said Hiffner, who is based at Rose Pest Solutions’ Cuyahoga Falls office. “He’s wonderful. He is great to work with. Sometimes you work with people, and they get on your nerves. I don’t have that.”
“It was created by Pet Sitters International (PSI) to celebrate the great companions dogs make and promote their adoptions,” according to the North Carolina-based association’s website. “The event encourages employers to experience the joys of pets in the workplace for one day to support their local pet community.”
About 300 businesses participated the first year of the observance, but figures for subsequent years aren’t available, according to the PSI website.
One of Hiffner’s fellow trainers found Kramer, now about a year old, at a pet shelter.
“She knew he would be perfect,” Hiffner said. “We take the dogs that basically nobody wants: The hyper dogs. The active dogs. The dogs that really need a job to do.”
She said finding a name for him was easy.
“He was named after a ‘Seinfeld’ character,” Hiffner said. “He has crazy hair. He’s a wild man.”
Before starting his job, Kramer had to undergo extensive training on how to sniff-out live beg bugs and viable eggs. He now has National Entomology Scent Detection Canine Association certification. She said the pest control company has him re-certified every year.
Hiffner explains how Kramer is a highly skilled worker.
“Bed bugs grow with each blood meal, which they usually get from a host, who is human,” she said. “They don’t jump. They don’t fly. They are just really good at hiding.
“That is where dogs come in,” Hiffner said. “A dog can actually detect one viable egg that is the size of a grain of salt. A person couldn’t do that because these eggs are teeny tiny.”
She said early detection means a bed-bug problem could be addressed before it “gets out of control.”
Hiffner said Kramer has to be adaptable because each day is different. They could be at a college, a nursing home, an apartment building or a single-family home. He uses his nose. She keeps him on track.
“As soon as we come in, we start right at the entrance,” she said. “We don’t bypass anything. We work together.”
Kramer methodically sniffs each inch of a room. Books. Televisions. Furniture. When he finds live bed bugs or viable eggs, he scratches on the location. It usually only takes him a few minutes to find them.
“They are commonly found where people sit or sleep,” Hiffner said. “That doesn’t mean we haven’t found them in strange places. We have found them on the soles of shoes and inside of coats and lunchbox zippers. We have even found them in people’s cars.
“Bed bugs are such good hiders,” she said. “Finding them is like playing hide-and-seek.”
Often the meticulous work doesn’t seem like work at all, Hiffner said.
“He is a wonderful co-worker that I get to hang out with and play hide-and-seek,” she said. “If everybody could have their pet with them at work, they would have a much better day.”