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How We Helped Dogs in 2012

Way back when my little Wayward Dogs project began, I started this blog to chronicle the lost, stray and abandoned canines I encountered.

Lost dog

I’m quite happy to report that for a second year in a row, those experiences did not occur frequently enough to warrant daily posts. In fact, I hardly ran into any wayward dogs on the streets in the year 2012!

That, of course, meant I had to fill in the days with posts about other things, including other people’s awesome dog projects, including:

Then, there was the KC Pittie Pack…

KC Pittie Pack & Friends at Loose Park. Photo by Fido Fetch Photography.

KC Pittie Pack & Friends at Loose Park. Photo by Fido Fetch Photography.

Emily from Our Waldo Bungie and I came together in 2012 to create a co-project of our own.

We founded KC Pittie Pack & Friends, a walking group designed to help people socialize their pets in a structured environment. In its first year, KC Pittie Pack:

Fundraising

In 2012, I also used this blog as a platform to generate support for local animal welfare organizations.

My awesome blog readers helped me:

And the year was not totally devoid of “wayward dogs.”

Tara the elderbull

Of the handful of lost dogs I encountered, the three I was able to assist appeared when I was en route to work:

  • Malakai – A gorgeous and sweet husky dog who was stopping traffic on a very busy Kansas City street.
  • Tara – I knew my neighbor’s elderbull was never supposed to run around the ‘hood by herself.
  • Cotton – A hunting dog I totally failed to blog about. Rather than taking him with me, I turned back toward home. Cotton’s ID tag had a phone number, so I left a message on his owner’s voicemail that his dog was safe and how to reach me. Then, I went on to work. Within 20 minutes, Cotton’s uber-relieved-sounding dad called him, so I told him where to go pick up his pup.

Foster Dogs

The fact that very few stray doggies followed me home in 2012 was actually a really good thing, considering at the beginning of the year we still had two formerly wayward dogs under our roof – Minnie and Charlie Machete – in addition to our two forever dogs.

Machete loves our husky mix Minnie.

No kidding – four was too much for our little house and the humans inside it.

Fortunately, by May, both fosters were adopted. But the reprieve did not last long.

Less than a year after he originally arrived in our lives, Charlie Machete came back – by way of a shelter in Omaha.

Machete bat ears-crop

We still don’t know exactly why he ended up behind bars, but we are grateful Charlie Machete’s adopters never changed the contact information on his microchip. Because they didn’t, the shelter called me, and Zach was able to make the three-hour drive to bail out our big black foster dog, who was otherwise on the list to be euthanized.

For now, he remains with us – when he’s not playing with his friends at Kennel Creek Pet Resort – and is available for adoption through Midwest Adopt-a-Bull.

Influencing Others

Although I haven’t proven to be a very successful dog foster mom, I’m proud to say that, through networking, I was able to help some other dogs find forever homes in 2012.

Sometimes I feel funny about the fact that I am the girl who almost daily posts sad pictures of dogs desperate to be adopted. I know this habit annoys some of my friends, but I keep doing it for a good reason: Sometimes the sharing pays off.

beagle husky mix

Because I helped my friend and fellow Kansas City pet advocate Nicole get the word out, these two dogs landed in forever homes in 2012:

  • Mia, a beagle/husky mix was adopted by my coworker
  • A black lab puppy was taken into a foster home that adopted him

My constant fretting about wayward dogs also seems to have had an effect on Zach’s and my mothers.

In 2012, both of them made successful efforts to apprehend and return home lost dogs in their own neighborhoods.

I have also noticed that generally in life I am becoming the person others turn to when they have questions about dogs. That sure feels good, and I always try to help if I can.

Here’s hoping for more successful efforts on behalf of dogs in 2013!

What was your biggest accomplishment for dogs last year?

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Conservation Canines save wildlife one scat at a time

Can a dog help save the whales?

Orca AKA Killer Whale

Photo by Innotata. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons.

If you read the New York Times, are a fan of Wayward Dogs on Facebook or follow me on Twitter, you have probably already encountered the story of Tucker, the onetime stray black lab mix who now spends his days sniffing out Orca scat from the deck of a boat off the coast of San Juan Island, Washington.

By leading scientists to this obscure excrement, Tucker helps them monitor the health of the whales and understand where they go when they’re not in the San Juan area.

I can’t believe this dog is for real.

According to the story, Tucker is the only dog in the world currently trained and working to detect the scent of whale droppings in the open ocean, but he’s not the only dog sniffing out endangered species poop for science.

Since 1997, the non-profit, Washington-based organization Conservation Canines has been training dogs to trackers of endangered whales, bears, owls, elephants, caribou, pumas, jaguars, giant anteaters and even mice.

Studying the scat is a non-invasive way for scientists to learn a whole lot about the animals, including their sex, species, nutritional status and reproductive health. In the case of the orcas, the presence of the chemicals like DDT and dioxin in the scat suggests in what other waters the animals may have been swimming.

We humans are killing off the rest of the planet at an alarming rate.

Something like 200 plant and animal species die off each day, mostly as a result of human impact.

Like our own, the world dog population is more of an overpopulation. Just ask shelters and rescue groups. When they’re free-roaming or feral, dogs can pose a threat to wildlife, as well.

As a person who cares deeply about the environment – and is a crazy dog lady – these are things I think about a lot. In fact, I often feel a bit guilty about the time and energy I put into dog advocacy, compared with what I do about the plight of threatened wild things.

My foster dog Charlie Machete

My foster dog Charlie Machete

What if at the end of the world, it’s just us and dogs? Would that be worth it?

Discovering the Conservation Canines organization was huge for me yesterday. This is an area where domestic animal rescue and environmentalism can come together. Humans can work with dogs to help in the fight to save other species.

Almost all of the Conservation Canines are rescue dogs or owner surrenders. Tucker came from the streets of Seattle.

According to the group’s website, the dogs that make great trackers often don’t make great family pets. They’re too hyper and too single-minded.

The dog now in training to do what Tucker does is a flat-coated retriever who was so obsessed with her ball that when her former owner placed it atop a refrigerator, she sat and stared at the ball for eight hours.

If only the rest of us could apply that level of determination to protecting the planet…

You can support Conservation Canines by shopping at the group’s merchandise site. I rather like the hoodies and “honorary member” shirts for dogs.

Honorary member of Conservation Canines

Wouldn’t your dogs look great in this shirt?

What do you think about this story? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Fun fact: I have been obsessed with whales since I was a little kid. That’s why there are books by the marine life artist Wyland in the “Favorite Things” section of the Wayward Dogs Store.
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