Conservation Canines: Dogs Helping Endangered Animals

Did you know you don’t have to be human to be an environmentalist?  Specially-trained dogs from the group Conservation Canines have been assisting scientists protect endangered species since 1997.

With their highly sophisticated sense of smell paired with their insatiable urge to play (their reward at the end of the day), dogs can track scat, or animal droppings, from miles away.  Once located, the scientists can analyze the scat for genetic, physiological, and dietary information.  This provides clues to the animal’s behavior and environment which helps conservationists determine the best way to protect it.

The dogs, which are adopted from animal shelters and then trained by the crew at Conservation Canines, track scat from a variety of endangered animals. The list includes tigers, orcas, fishers, spotted owls, bears, wolves, caribou, giant armadillos, giant anteaters, pumas, jaguars, and Pacific pocket mice.

Watch a video below about Tucker, a black labrador mix who specializes in tracking orca scat. This is a tricky task because he must catch the scent over open water, the scat can move around and/or sink in the water, and he must provide signals to his human coworkers so they can steer the boat in the correct direction.

To learn more, see:

Conservation Canines website
NY Times

Dog Shows on Nat Geo WILD

Cesar Milan and bulldog

Cesar stands alongside Hugo with a picturesque California palm tree backdrop. Hugo, an English Bulldog, has aggressive tendencies that Cesar hope to help. (Photo by: MPH - Emery/Sumner Joint Ventures)

Nat Geo WILD has two shows all about dogs premiering on January 7th.

The Dog Whisperer follows Cesar Milan as he tries to neutralize tense situations between dogs. In the first episode (starting at 8pm ET/PT), two Jack Russell terriers named Ruby and Jinx have lived together for years but have begun fighting aggressively every time they are anywhere near each other. In the second episode (starting at 9pm ET/PT), Cesar travels to Santa Barbara to meet Hugo, a 3-year-old bulldog with a major mean streak.

Watch a clip below of Hugo the bulldog after Cesar has worked with him.


Philly Undercover
is a new six-part series in which the PSPCA’s undercover police team works to eliminate dogfighting and protect all animals from abuse and neglect. In a sneak preview on January 7 at 10pm ET/PT, a covert surveillance operation with the PSPCA undercover team leads to one of the biggest dogfighting busts in Philadelphia’s history — 14 suspects are arrested, and several horribly neglected, abused and injured dogs are rescued. In the second episode on Monday, January 9 at 9pm ET/PT (the show’s regular night and time), the team rescues 41 dogs from five properties across Philadelphia.

Blue-Collar Dogs on Nat Geo WILD

Training a dog how to read

At the Bergin University of Canine Studies, experts are training dogs how to read. Dr. Bergin developed a system of teaching the dogs complex tasks, starting as early as three and a half weeks of age. (Photo credit: © Adina Pliskin)

On Monday, February 21, Nat Geo WILD is featuring a 3-hour special about dogs working in various fields from medicine to border patrol.

8pm: Blue-Collar Dogs: Canine MD
The first hour is dedicated to dogs in medical fields.

9pm: Blue-Collar Dogs: Border Hounds
The second hour focuses on dogs helping U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents.

10pm: Blue-Collar Dogs: New York Police
The third hour showcases the New York Police Department’s K-9 squad.

Upcoming Animal Programs on NatGeo

There are several very interesting programs airing in the next few days on NatGeo that focus on animals. Be sure to tune in!

My Child is a Monkey
Airing Friday, August 13 at 5pm ET/PT

They wear diapers and ride in strollers but, they’re not babies — they are “monkids.” NGC goes inside the controversy of adopting monkeys as surrogate babies. Many question whether this is animal cruelty or even a danger to the owners. Others are fiercely devoted to these primates they see as part of the family. See just how far these wild monkeys have come from their treetop habitat as we explore this growing phenomenon.

Watch a video clip that outlines some of the issues that come with integrating a wild animal into a human family.

And Man Created Dog
Airing Friday, August 13 at 9pm ET/PT

If humans were as varied as dogs we would range in height up to 22 feet tall and in weight more than 1,000 pounds. In the ultimate canine ancestral story, NGC traces the genetic journey from wolf to dog, taking viewers back 100,000 years to meet the “mother of all dogs.” It’s no accident that dogs evolved this way, as humans have been selectively breeding them for around 14,000 years to serve our needs as laborer, companion, hunter, herder and warrior, as well as to suit our aesthetic fancy.

In this video clip, we meet an incredible therapy dog named Tuesday who helps an Iraq veteran to overcome his debilitating PTSD.

Wild Nights: New Orleans
Airing Monday, August 9, 2010, at 9pm ET/PT

We journey to the “Big Easy,” famous for streets packed with party fanatics, but they aren’t alone. Mireya’s on a treasure hunt to find as much wildlife as possible and even hopes to confirm a rumor about an unexpected urban invader—a feral hog. We’ll follow as she searches through parks, swamps and city streets to find New Orleans’s wildest animals—including large invasive rodents called nutria that have been devouring the New Orleans ecosystem. She goes on a late-night escapade with a city-hired hog-hunting squad to catch hogs in a central New Orleans park, and eats bayou food including frogs and bugs … local style!

Watch this clip of Mireya tracking down the elusive New Orleans urban hog in a residential neighborhood.