Bear the Border Collie previously had a family. But when the dog exhibited behavior that made him an “unsuitable pet” – chewing through furniture and walls out of sheer boredom – his owners were compelled to surrender him to a shelter.
Bear, now 6 years old, ended up with the Detection Dogs for Conservation. The staff discovered that he, indeed, had a huge personality that might be too much for some pet owners.
He had energy that never seemed to run out, a curious nature, high intelligence, and a nose that was great at detecting trouble.
Unfortunately, these qualities made him an unsuitable family pet. But it was also these characteristics that made him perfect for the job of finding live koalas within forests ravaged by bushfires.
“He was brought in for assessment at about one year old. Within minutes the team knew he was ‘The One’ they had been looking for to train on live koalas. He is high-energy, obsessive, doesn’t like to be touched and is completely uninterested in people, which sadly means he doesn’t make the ideal family pet. But these qualities do make him a perfect candidate for a detection dog which is exactly why he was chosen,” the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) shared in a statement obtained by PEOPLE.
The Detection Dogs for Conservation trained the Border Collie to sniff out sick, displaced, and injured koalas in the wild. The dog has been busy these past few days due to the bushfires currently raging across Australia’s east coast, destroying prime koala habitat. It is predicted that hundreds of koalas have already perished in the fires, but Bear is there to find those that survived.
Bear is the only one of his kind trained to track live koalas rather than scat.
Decked out in his special protective boots, the dog was recently sent out to several burned areas in Australia to assist Queensland Fire and Emergency Services – QFES, Queensland Koala Crusaders, and Wildcare Australia Inc. locate koalas that may have been hurt in the fires.
Bear’s job is far from easy. Koala detection dogs must have no interest in people, extremely focused, and without prey drive. Luckily, this Border Collie meets all these requirements.
“Bear is highly focused and brilliant at focusing on one thing – his ball which is his reward, which makes him perfectly suited for the job. He also has zero prey drive which is essential for a wildlife detection dog as they need to focus purely on the scent and not the animal, ultimately ignoring the animal,” the statement reads.
Bear is so good at his job, that he is able to lead rescuers to live koalas even if they are on the tops of the tallest trees that have been burned.
Fortunately, Bear found the place where he truly belonged. If he had stayed in a home, he wouldn’t be able to put his skills to good use and help various organizations locate and rescue injured koalas!
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