You already know all about the NYC's bed bug explosion, and the companies that are training dogs to detect them. But today Penelope Green at the Times files an in-depth feature on a day in the life of one small dog sniffing company, Bedbug Detectors. Great read, and when we say in-depth, we mean it. To train his dogs to detect bugs, the company's owner, Jeremy Ecker, 35, needs to keep bedbugs in vials in his home. And these specimens must be kept alive—on Ecker's own blood:
Mr. Ecker rolled up a sleeve to reveal a horrifying tattoo of old bites. (Bedbugs don’t carry disease, but their bites can itch like crazy.) Happily, the bugs need to eat only once a month or less, he said. “It’s not so bad. You can hardly feel it.” A few days later at his home, Mr. Ecker demonstrated, tipping a vial of bugs onto his forearm, which the critters latched on to like hungry newborns, their bodies quickly swelling with blood.
Eh, it's a living. Green rides shotgun as Ecker travels the city on one rainy day with his dog Cruiser, who can inspect a room in minutes with 96 percent accuracy. As they go from home to home, the scene is one of unrelenting anxiety and dread. One woman moved her family into a hotel while her house was "heat-treated" to the tune of $5,000. But upon moving back in, she was bitten again in her bed, displaying a "graceful bare foot with a large, angry welt on the arch."
When Cruiser detects bed bugs in her home once again, "the mother’s eyes welled. 'I have to remember no one is sick, no one has cancer,' she said. 'Is it possible, when we went to the hotel, I brought them with me and then brought them back?' 'It’s possible,' Mr. Ecker said. 'I’m sorry.'" Ecker, you see, is just the messenger. The bed bugs are the enemy, and they are winning.