Saving the whales is a dirty business. Don’t let Free Willy fool you, rescuing whales isn’t all majestic rock jumps and Michael Jackson ballads. It takes research, dedication, and every tool in your arsenal.
“Enough whale talk, what does this have to do with dogs!? Whales aren’t dogs,” you’re probably yelling at your monitor. To that I say, chillax friend, we’re two sentences into this thing. Also, this is Tucker. He’s a dog. A rescued black lab dog, specifically.
Tucker is one of only 17 pups trained to sniff out the poo of endangered animals. While that sounds like simply a strange party trick, these heroic noses are actually part of a movement known as Conservation Canines. You see, founder Samuel Wasser needed a way to track hormones of orcas that would not invade their privacy or otherwise spook ’em. Enter: Poop. As it turns out, with the right lab equipment, animal poop can reveal plenty of information about its host, from level of toxins to DNA. With proper research, mankind can make strides, however small, to helping the diminishing number of killer whales. Of course, the first problem with whale poo is finding it.
As I’ve actually discussed before, a dog’s nose is nothing to
sneeze blink at. The nasal passages contained within a pup’s snout are basically little Siris that retrieve a ton of information from anything from nearby drugs to other dog’s butts. Tucker, who can also seek out moose, iguana, and wolverine poop (and you thought YOU were versatile) travels up and down Washington’s coast hunting for that fecal goodness. As you might imagine, orca crap has a pungent odor which a nose as skilled as Tucker’s can easily identify.
Of course, like most working Americans, Tucker hunts whale poo not out of the goodness of his pup heart, but because he knows a reward awaits. Indeed, the pups of Conservation Canine have been trained to know that once a batch of orca dookie has been located, they get playtime! This is especially key because Tucker’s nose steers the entire ship metaphorically and very, very literally, so Tucker’s accuracy can’t be all willy nilly. How suitable though, that a rescued dog like Tucker now does the rescuing himself.
Or maybe Tucker just saw Blackfish and got angry like the rest of us. Probably don’t want to invite Tucker to SeaWorld anytime soon, I’m just sayin!