With its wonderful smell a dog named Tucker helps save the whales

Elizabeth Seely, entrenadora de Tucker

This beautiful story takes place on the Islands San Juan, an archipelago of coastal islands located on the North-West coast of the United States, in the State of Washington. The archipelago consists of eleven Islands: Orcas with 148 km², San Juan with 142,59 km², Lopez with 77,2 km², Lummi with 23,97 km², Guemes with 21,58 km², Shaw con 19,95 km², Blakely con 16,85 km², Cypress with 16,12 km², Waldron with 11,9 km², Decatur with 9,12 km², Stuart with 7,46 km².

The coasts of the Islands San Juan a dog named Tucker with a somewhat sad past as a tramp in the streets of Seattle has become an undisputed star in the Kingdom of the canines that contribute their wisdom and science help.
Tucker is today only dog in the world that works with marine biologists, able to find and follow the traces of excrement orca to open sea. It is able to follow the trail of the stool up to a mile away, and in tiny amounts. Spectacular.

Tucker is a cross of Labrador Retriever black eight years old that - fortunately- He was rescued from the streets of Seattle, an evening that ended in the bow of the boat of the Group of scientists that currently works in his street walks. That added to his obsession to an orange ball hooked a rope was the beginning of his reputation as a protector of whales and orcas. With that ball unfortunately play after a long and successful search in the water.

Love of the water work (Although curiously, He does not much like swimming..., But yes followed traces) and the love of his ball have been key elements for the conservation, protection and surveillance of the health of whales, a group in danger of extinction which is probably is one of the most studied populations of animals in the world.

The majority of the, approximately, 85 copies of orcas or killer whales that frequent the Islands San Juan (almost two hours Northwest of Seattle), tracked them the decades, the genotype is known, their years of birth and the number of offspring, etc. But none of this would be so easy (or possible) without the help of Tucker, their special sense of smell, his temperament and the amount of tricks you taught to scientists.

Deborah A.. Giles, Member of the scientific team is finishing his doctorate with a work that yields very interesting data about how killer whales that visit the area affected by the thousands of observers for whales and dozens of commercial vessels that are grouped around animals. She was the first person that saw Tucker since he was working on the boat when the dog appeared in the bow with the face of "killer whale poop really don't smell so bad". He thinks that it is a very expressive and subtle dog.

Then, Elizabeth Seely (coach of working dogs for conservation of nature and research for endangered species) He worked with Tucker for four years and was not difficult.

But what is difficult is the work of Tucker, because, for example, a dog that sniffs narcotics tied with the belt it can lead to the human to the place of the trail and where Tucker research vessel converted, in effect, the legs of your dog when it has picked up the scent, because he can not physically go to where is the sample, but somehow you have to notify you where you want to go the boat, in search of feces that are somewhere in the water. Yes, is an adventure.

Each output is like a visit to the Oracle at Delphi in which each expression must be interpreted by the acolytes, Tucker could lean to one side of the boat, and then another, and suddenly it sinks back into the mat of the smell of excrement lost, with the head between the legs but that small track into his nostrils immediately leads the group to the right place and all must follow the marked trail. “Less contraction of the ear is important”, presents Elizabeth Seely, her coach and must be able to read their signals.

For Tucker, However, highest emotion reduced to his toy: the orange ball. There you are deploying all their passions, Air nozzle, do neck rotations, revolea it with joy. Why always traveling with him on the boat and when a fecal sample is found, the researchers reward him giving him the ball at the last second, which reinforces the connection between work and reward.

To finish, discussed them that Tucker will not be the only dog in the scientific world, have a colleague in full training a dog named Sadie to Flat-Coated Retriever breed, It was donated by its owner to the updated program that could not meet Sadie fixing their ball. It was a desperate and hopeless obsession, then one day the owner placed the ball above the fridge before going to work, but eight hours later he returned home and Sadie was still sitting in the same place looking at the ball.

"When the owner told me that story", my immediate response was: "we take it", said Professor Samuel K. Wasser, Director of the Biology Centre for the conservation of the University of Washington and the project research of killer whales where Tucker works. Research, financed by Washington Sea Grant of Administration National Oceanic and atmospheric, It raises new questions about how to protect orcas.

Y, as to close one Strawberry for this cake. Despite having blood Labrador Retriever and its hundreds of hours in boats, Tucker not like them to get wet. He hates swimming. The Sra. Seely, not sure why, but it means that it could be due to a trauma of puppy. It is something that we will never know…

We leave the link to a video for you to see Tucker in action: See video (opens in a new tab).

Source: NYTimes.com

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