Bear is a super high-energy border collie mix. So high-energy, in fact, that the people who took him home from the shelter found — sadly — that he was not the ideal pet for them.
But the happenstance did result in something wonderful, because Bear found his true calling.
The same traits that made him a less-than-ideal house pet are what make him a stellar Koala Detection Dog. And now he spends his days ensuring the safety of koalas in peril due to logging on eucalyptus plantations.
Bear underwent some serious training once recruited by the International Fund for Animal Welfare, and his incredible nose and high energy are just what the job calls for.
Koalas are now classified as vulnerable to extinction and their world is fraught with danger. Wildfires, disease and even suburban traffic pose serious threats. But the logging of the blue gum eucalyptus is the worst of them.
And it’s where Bear is at his most useful. He can detect koala scent with a 96 percent success rate and discern koalas from other marsupials with 95 percent accuracy.
Josey Sharrad, IFAW’s native wildlife campaigner in Australia, told the Express about how this job gave Bear a wonderful new life and purpose.
“Bear has an unfortunately all too common backstory. Purchased as a puppy, his family was disheartened to discover that his high energy and extreme toy-drive was too much for them to handle.
“Luckily for Bear, that’s when the team found him, and, in partnership with IFAW, were able to give him a second chance. And now, Bear will be able to give a second chance to koalas.
“Koalas are in crisis across Australia and this project also allows us to rescue dogs from death row to help us save koalas.
“Not many dogs have what it takes to be a detection dog, but Bear is the perfect candidate.
“He is high-energy, focused and, most importantly, is only interested in his ball and has zero interest in chasing koalas.
“These are conservation dogs and they cannot be a threat to wildlife. So it’s a win win – both dogs and koalas get a second chance at life.”