Eba the dog may not be a superhero, but she was born with an incredible power: her sense of smell.
As a puppy, she was abandoned outside an animal shelter in Sacramento, California. When staff members found her, she was so cold and wet that they weren’t sure she would make it. Thankfully, she pulled through — and went on to help save an endangered species with her nose!
The high-energy dog is obsessed with playing with toys. While the personality trait didn’t make her a good fit for families looking for a calm pet, it made her the perfect match for Dr. Deborah Giles, a researcher at the University of Washington Center for Conservation Biology.
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It was a very happy coincidence for Deborah when she adopted Eba and realized she would make an excellent detection dog!
Deborah studies Southern Resident killer whales near the Canadian Gulf Islands and the San Juan Islands in Washington. The species is endangered, so as part of conservation efforts, scientists like Deborah often collect and analyze their feces.
“That’s where the dog comes in because they can smell these things from a mile away — literally a mile away,” she told Today.
In 2019, she decided to take Eba out on a test run for Conservation Canines, a program that trains shelter dogs to detect wildlife feces. Because their pups are so toy-oriented, they’re easy to train, as they’re rewarded with play sessions. As for Eba, she did such a good job that she correctly detected a sample on her second day!
You may be wondering why whale poop is so important. The answer is simple: It tells researchers about their health and stress levels and indicates which environmental factors are affecting their populations.
This critical information helps scientists work with policymakers to improve conditions for the whales. The only problem is that samples can be difficult to find and collect.
Eba, however, makes it easy! When she picks up the scent of feces, she immediately alerts her team by whining and pointing them in the right direction. If the researchers miss it, she redirects them until they spot the sample in the water.
“She’s really the perfect dog for this work,” Deborah added. “She’s helping answer questions that will go to recovering an endangered species of beloved animals.”
What a good girl! From being rescued herself to working on saving an entire species, Eba has proven herself to be a valuable asset to conservation efforts — and a furry hero!
Be sure to share this promising news with other animal lovers.
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