Once-abandoned dogs are now trained to sniff out environmental clues
In 2017, Tigee was rescued by Working Dogs for Conservation (WD4C), a conservation detection dog organization based in Turah, Mont. Tigee now lives in Zambia, where he uses his strong drive — and big black snout — to collect data in South Luangwa National Park and protect the region’s wildlife, including pangolins, a scaly-skinned mammal that is a threatened species.
(Link is a gift link to read the article in full. Enjoy!)
Oops! I did not frame this as a discussion, so received a reminder I needed to do so. Sorry!
A question that came to my mind as I read the article was the stress to the dogs themselves. The organization’s website seems to indicate all their dogs come from the USA, with many but not all from shelters. I am very familiar with transportation logistics of animals and even short flights are extremely stressful. Per Google flights, Montana to Zambia is travel of more than a day.
Then I wondered if I was framing this wrong because we are constantly talking about unhomed dogs everywhere whilst the pangolin is imperiled and therefore truly “the squeaky wheel”?
Should the needs of threatened species be more considered than common ones?
Travel certainly is stressful, but, in general, organisms cope with high intensity, short duration stress better than low intensity, long duration. If the dog is enjoying it’s life, and is happy/healthy in Zambia, I’m sure it was worth a few days stress for the years of good life.
Similarly, rehoming animals like chimps or elephants from research facilities or bad zoos to reserves is really stressful for them - it can take a couple of years to adjust in some cases (and some never fully adjust), but it is still probably worth it.
Oh, I 100% believe the dog is having a wonderful time! And I think it is amazing how many ways animals can use their natural abilities. (There are landmine sniffing rats in Cambodia of whom I am similarly in awe.)
I think I wondered, since the website and the article both emphasize how it is a dog’s temperament rather than breed that is determinate, if there were not local, unhomed dogs that could be trained locally for the same purpose, eliminating the need for any canine travel.
You think like I do. The expression, “carrying coals to Newcastle” comes to mind.