Wicket was 12 months old and had been at the shelter for 6 months. Her history was unknown. She had recently been spayed by a shelter “angel” hoping to make her more appealing for adoption. But it’s often very difficult to find a home for a dog who constantly whines and barks, and literally bounces of the walls of her kennel.
But something about her “brand” of bounce made me offer her a tennis ball through the front of her kennel. She was captivated. Her eyes never left the ball. Out in the exercise yard I was impressed by her eagerness for the ball and how she problem-solved until she could possess it again. I told the shelter worker that I wanted to try her out for a career as a conservation detection dog. “That one?!” the worker asked, incredulous. “But, that one’s crazy!”
Turns out, she was the right kind of “crazy”. That was almost 10 years ago. Wicket completed training blindingly fast, and was working in the mountains west of Yellowstone Park just a few months later sniffing out scat of wolves and grizzly bears. By now she has worked in 7 countries and 14 states, and knows how to sniff out over 25 different species of plants, live endangered animals, live unwanted pests, and scats. She is one of the stars of Working Dogs for Conservation.