In early 2017, multiple deadly forest fires swept the country Chile. As a result of these fires, 11 people lost their lives, wholes towns disappeared from the map, and over a million acres of wildlands burned. The aftermath of forest fires not only destroys lives but also devastates local flora and fauna. Animals leave due to lack of food, invasive species take over, and the ground lies barren. Usually, nature heals itself over the course of many years. For some regions in Chile, though, a special team of working dogs is out to lend nature a helping hand. Border Collies Save the Day After Forest Fire Dog trainer Fransisca Torres and owner of the environmental NGO Pewas decided to put her 3 Border Collies to work doing an important job -- reseeding the Chilean forests. All 3 dogs are female and they're named Das, Olivia, and Summer. Each of the dogs wears a backpack designed to allow seeds to scatter as the dogs run. Torres drives to the day's work location and releases the dogs from the truck. They run through the forest leaving seed trails in their wake. Being Border Collies, they can rack up some impressive mileage each day -- close to 20 miles each, in fact! Furthermore, they can scatter close to 20 pounds of seeds. Most humans who reseed the forests after fires average 5 miles per day and oftentimes far less. After the packs are empty, the dogs return to their handler for love, treats, and a refill. Once their packs are restocked, they're off again. The efforts have already started to pay off -- regrowth is occurring much quicker in the regions the dogs have ran. Greenery and vines are already starting to show. The efforts by Torres, Das, Olivia, and Summer have been praised by the president of Chile and multiple organizations dedicated to environmental preservation and awareness.
We are always astounded at the variety of jobs that dogs are able to do. The canines at Working Dogs for Conservation (WD4C) are no exception. WD4C trains scent detection dogs to help researchers monitor the health of wildlife, catch poachers, find contraband such as guns and ammunition, find invasive species and more. We caught up with Pete Coppolillo, the Executive Director of WD4C to learn more about how they are changing the world and how you can help. What does Working Dogs for Conservation do? As the world’s leading conservation detection dog organization, WD4C channels dogs’ strong sense of smell in order to protect wildlife and aid in conservation efforts. Pete explained that in the past, wildlife were monitored by catching animals, which is not only very expensive, but also inefficient. However, this all changed when they realized that fecal matter (scats) left over from the species could provide important insights into the current condition of these animals. According to Pete dogs are really good at this task because it’s, “an evolutionary way that carnivores leave messages to other carnivores.” He explains that, “nowadays we can tell individuals apart, who they are related to and we can uncover all sorts of other things from scats like hormones, stress hormones, reproductive hormones. We can tell if they’re breeding or not, if they’re stressed out and even their diets or diseases. So, the value, the amount of information you can get from a scat, just keeps going up and up because the lab techniques are so good.” Currently, along with sniffing out scats, WD4C also assists with anti-poaching initiatives, using trained dogs to locate poaching contraband, such as guns and ammunition, aids in finding invasive species in waterways and natural areas, as well as works to protect endangered and diseased wildlife. Committed to continual innovation, WD4C is always exploring new areas where dogs can work to make a difference. The possibilities are endless. How was the organization started? WD4C was started by four women co-founders who, “were all wildlife biologists, people who had experience working with dogs and all of them were working on species, mostly carnivores that were hard to work with, hard to monitor, hard to count”, explains Pete. After realizing the value of using dogs to aid in wildlife and conservation efforts, they decided to start WD4C which now in its twentieth year works in approximately twenty-five countries, on thirty-nine projects. What is Rescues2theRescue? WD4C
Cancer Detection Dogs recently gained the spotlight for their ability to accurately smell cancer in breath, blood, or other tissue samples. These unique medical detection dogs undergo specialized training to alert their handler to the presence of cancerous cells. While this branch of scent work is relatively new, using dogs to detect, locate, or verify scents has been done for thousands of years. What is BioScentDX? BioScentDX, a company specializing in using canines for cancer screening, presented the results of their recent cancer detection research and studies at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology annual meeting held during the April 2019 Experimental Biology symposium. Dogs, BioScentDX says, can be trained to detect cancer from scent samples with 97% accuracy. Heather Junqueira, the lead researcher and study director at BioScentDX, says dogs offer a low-cost, minimally invasive way to screen high volumes of patients. Quicker, cheaper methods of detection allow for earlier discovery of cancer, which allows for treatment to begin during the early stages of the disease. "This work is very exciting because it paves the way for further research along two paths, both of which could lead to new cancer-detection tools," said Junqueira. "One is using canine scent detection as a screening method for cancers, and the other would be to determine the biologic compounds the dogs detect and then design cancer-screening tests based on those compounds." Dogs' Brains Specialize in Processing Scents The canine brain prioritizes scent over the other senses. Furthermore, it dedicates a whopping 40% of sensory function to processing scents and smells. This allows dogs to reliably identify and catalog millions of smells. When a trained detection dog encounters a target odor, they alert their handler so appropriate action can be taken. For some detection dogs, the target odor is drugs, explosives, or the scent of a missing person. For others, like the cancer detection dogs at BioScentDX, the target odor is cancer. There are several breeds of dogs capable of locating and identifying scent diluted to parts per trillion. Beagles, Labradors, and German Shepherds rank high among them. "Parts per trillion" looks like a single spritz of perfume in a stadium or a half teaspoon of sugar tossed into an Olympic sized swimming pool. Another way to look at parts per trillion is with time -- it's the equivalent of 1 second out of 32,000 years. BioScentDX exclusively uses Beagles for their cancer screening programs but other researchers have ran
Brace and Mobility Support Dogs are a type of Service Dog trained to provide their disabled handler with assistance moving from place to place. This invaluable service is matched only by these dogs’ ability to also help with other chores and tasks, like opening doors or retrieving dropped items. Due to the unique nature of their work, though, Brace and Mobility Support Dogs have special needs. Read on to learn more!
What is CBD? CBD is short for cannabidiol, is a chemical compound from the cannabis plant. It's a naturally occurring substance that's used in products like oils and edibles to impart a feeling of relaxation and calm. Unlike its cousin tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) it is not psychoactive. In other words, CBD can not get you high. Despite the initial skepticism of some people. beneficial evidence for CBD is growing. While you might have already heard about the benefits of CBD in humans, you may not realize that CBD can also be used for your dogs. Of course, please consult your veterinarian before administering any supplements or medications to your dog. Anxiety and stress relief Animals suffer from anxiety and stress, just like humans do. In fact, over the past 25 years, veterinary behaviorists have learned more about the biological basis of dog behavior and have prescribed drugs to help alleviate anxiousness, aggressiveness, clinginess or obsessive, accident-prone, traumatized, and anti-social behaviors in dogs. CBD represents a safer alternative, and it is more accessible as well. Anti-cancer properties Cancer is a major threat for both humans and animals. Most of the time treatment is only temporary. While evidence is emerging that CBD may have some anti-tumor properties, it can also help with the negative effects of the treatments used for cancer. Therefore, if your pet is diagnosed with cancer, CBD can be used for pain, nausea, and similar symptoms. Pain relief Many people know that CBD can be used for pain relief. The same thing applies to dogs. If your dog is in pain, CBD can help relieve it. It works even better for certain conditions such as joint pain, tumors and hip dysplasia. More than that, CBD does not come with the side effects of traditional medication. Skin conditions Dogs are also affected from various skin conditions. In fact, almost all dogs experience something like this during their life. There are various things that could affect your pet, from infections, bugs, eczema, and so on. CBD oil can impact the endocannabinoid system directly, helping to reduce the discomfort right at the source. You can purchase CBD oil and apply it topically. Can improve the well being of your dog Perhaps your dog suffers from discomfort related to injury or aging. As a result, your dog may naturally become less active and interested in activities. If you have a Service Dog, that pain could impact their ability to perform task or work related to your disability. If
Fire departments and dogs have been working together for a couple centuries or more. Historically, Dalmatians were known for their ability to clear the way for the horse-drawn fire wagons. In modern times, working dogs still play a very important, but different, role in fire departments across the country. Arson Dogs Arson Dogs sniff out accelerants left behind at fire scenes. These hard-working detection dogs perform important work with their fire investigation handlers. They're taught to sift through the remains of suspicious fires, smelling for trace amounts of common fire-starting substances like gasoline or lighter fluid. When an arson dog encounters a substance they've been trained to detect, they sit next to the source of the scent in order to alert their handler to its presence. Arson Dogs can be any breed of dog with a lot of food or toy drive. Usually, though, arson dogs come from the retriever or sporting dog groups, which includes popular breeds like the Labrador Retriever, German Shorthaired Pointer, and several types of working spaniels. There are hundreds of arson dogs at work in the States today, with many of them provided to fire departments by the State Farm Arson Dog Training Program. Search and Rescue Dogs Search and Rescue Dogs search for lost or missing people in wilderness, urban, and disaster environments. Fire departments often employ Search and Rescue Dogs to help them find or recover missing people more quickly. Some teams, like the Phoenix Fire Department in Arizona, are certified as a FEMA Task Force, and their search dogs work worldwide during urban disasters. Search and Rescue Dogs are usually medium or large dogs who possess a lot of stamina, drive, and good temperaments. Labradors, Border Collies, and German Shepherds excel at search and rescue work. Tracking Dogs Tracking Dogs follow scent trails left on the ground by wandering people. These specialized scent work dogs excel at recovering people on foot, whether or not they want to be found. When the trail is fresh, a tracking dog can follow it through a variety of terrains, including urban ones like concrete or asphalt. Some tracking dogs can follow trails that are weeks or months old. Fire departments commonly use tracking dogs to help recover lost children or missing elderly people. Bloodhound are the most well-known tracking dogs, but Labradors, German Shepherds, and other working dog breeds often perform the job well. Crisis Response Canines Crisis Response Canines are a type of therapy dog. These
I was lost among the junipers in the starkly beautiful La Tierra Mountains just outside Santa Fe, New Mexico. I sat in a deep stream bed that could drown me in seconds with one flash flood. Lucky for me, temperatures hovered around 60 degrees during a storm-free afternoon. Would I be found by the search dog, I nervously wondered?
You recycle. You turn of lights you're not using. Maybe you even adjust your thermostat to help conserve energy. You may think you’re on top of things, being eco-conscious and making sure you’re taking steps to reduce your own carbon footprint.
It’s a great time to reflect on your 2017 and resolve to do better in 2018. Here are ten simple steps that will help you and your Service Dog become a better team. Happy New Year!