Friday, February 22, 2013

Feel-Good Friday: Tucker's Nose Knows

This isn't a story about an adorable pair of cheetah/dog friends.  It's not a heart-warming tale of dogs helping veterans, or a heroic anecdote about a life-saving canine.  It's a story about poop. POOP. And it made me feel good when I read it.

Every part of the story of Tucker was eye-opening for me. That a dog can smell whale poop (academic name: scat) in the SEA, that there are people who ride around all day looking for whale scat, or that whale scat can tell researchers every essential thing they need to know to help with conservation efforts for sea-life, all came as a surprise to me. 

The best part of the story is that Tucker is a rescue dog. He was a stray wandering the streets of Seattle before he became the only dog in the world trained to successfully sniff out Killer Whale scat. His territory  is the Puget Sound. If you watch the video I've provided, one of the crew explains that looking for the scat is worse than looking for a needle in a haystack, because at least the needle stays still. The scat is in the process of moving and sinking.  Yet Tucker can find it from one nautical mile away.

At some point in the future I'd like to further explore and discuss a dog's sense of smell here on the blog, so I will keep the crazy statistics to a minimum. A dog's sense of smell is so sensitive compared to ours that if we used our sense of sight to explain the difference we would find that what we can see at 1/3 of a mile away a dog could see just as well 3000 miles away (NOVA).  To clarify, I'm not saying that's how much better their vision is, I'm saying that if the two senses were comparable and similar that's how it extrapolates.

Tucker's greatest reward comes in the form of a ball. If you get the chance watch the video; it's only three minutes long and it really is a great feeling to see how happy it makes Tucker to do his job.  It's hard to wrap our brains around why and how much dogs are better than we are at smelling, but it really doesn't matter, does it?  I mean I don't think any humans are anxious to take Tucker's job anytime soon.

Click on the picture below to watch the video:

Speaking of conservation, I'm not sure how many of our readers this applies to, but if you fish, or you know someone who likes to fish, send them to the CRO Flies blog. It is written and maintained by a couple of young and enthusiastic fly fishermen who are trying to foster a love of the sport and the principles of catching and releasing. They are also licensed guides so people in the Mid-Atlantic region might be interested in those services.

Anyway, that concludes Feel-Good Friday. Today's post was intended to reinforce that no dog should ever be written off, because his or her purpose may not be evident to us, but someone else might have the perfect use for that pooch. Tucker is no longer homeless; hours and hours of time are saved in the research process, and the whole ecosystem benefits.  Have an awesome weekend but don't forget your job: I need pictures of your sleeping pets! Get to work!

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