He might be cute, but Ben is more than just a cocker spaniel with an unbelievably good sense of smell.
He’s also the region’s only termite dog.
At only two years old, Ben specialises in the early detection of termites. He’s often able to do this before they’re visible or able to be picked up by equipment.
Owner Steve Butcher says that Ben has learnt to associate these smells with termite activity.
“He searches for termite activity and old damage. Recently he found damage that was done 15 years ago. They train him through his keen sense of smell,” he said.
Ben will be visiting Colleambally and Darlington Point once per fortnight as part of his owner’s expanding business.
Trained in Sydney by an industry leader, Ben is also following in his family’s footsteps.
He comes from a from a long line of detection dogs, his grandfather was a top termite dog in Sydney and his father Ess specialises in detecting bed bugs.
Mr Butcher says that, at home, Ben is just a regular house dog.
“They’re just regular house dogs. We’ve got other pets and they just hang around with them. They eat what they eat and sleep where they sleep," he said.
He might be the region’s only, it’s not a title he’ll be holding for long. Mr Butcher is currently in the process of training process training Ben’s half-sister Alaska.
For Ben, Steve says, it goes beyond a job. The pooch loves getting out and about with him.
“Ben loves doing what he does. He actually gets a little annoyed if I don’t take him with me,” he said.
“If I shut the door behind me and I don’t have him with me, he does sulk a little bit.”