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Dogs are known as being man’s best friend but recently have been shown to be a turtles’ best friend as well. I was listening to the NPR radio station the other day and one of the reporters stated a recent move in training dogs to sniff out nests of western pond turtles that have been in sharp decline due to their own survival instincts.


Currently the western pond turtle is disappearing from the Pacific Northwest due to the fact that humans, as we seem to do everywhere, are taking over their habitats and the turtles simply can’t compete.

 The turtles also don’t really help themselves when it comes to being stealthy. Their natural method of protection is to hide their nests after laying their eggs in a small hole.

  What they do as a stealthy survival instinct is then knead together their own patch of dirt, leaves and their own urine to cover the nests. Once this cover dries, it blends into the surrounding environment and patch of ground, virtually unnoticeable to the naked eye.

In order for scientists and environmentalists to try and save these wonderful species of western pond turtles from foxes and raccoons from eating the eggs, they must try and fine the nests. But how can someone find something they cannot see?

 Well, that’s where the pups come in. Dave Vesely who works at the Oregon Wildlife Institute decided to train and use his five Groenendaels to try and save the western pond turtles from disappearing completely.


This breed of dogs has actually evolved to become swift predators with a very detailed sight and expert noses. The dogs associate the search with playtime, which is perfect for Vesely. Sharpy, Heart, Rocky, Knife and Rogue all help save the turtles from disappearing with their hundreds of millions of receptors that line the pathways of their wondrous noses.

So there we have it! Dogs are more than man’s best friend they are a great friend to all of nature. It’s quite fascinating to think that dogs understand the world in a completely different way than we do, all because of their very intricate sense of smell. These guys truly are incredible.

About the author


Bunyaporn (a.k.a. Happy Snail) is a Thai American blogger.

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