explainer

Excuse us. But dogs are saving the lives of injured koalas and we have questions.

As if we needed further proof that dogs are the most wonderful creatures, we are now hearing stories of hardworking rescue dogs who are helping to find injured and orphaned koalas in the Blue Mountains.

These four-legged-heroes are making global headlines – they’re helping save our fauna from their bushfire-ravaged habitats. And we need to talk about it.

You may have already heard about Taylor, the English springer spaniel who has been busy saving koalas around the North Coast of NSW or blue-eyed border-collie Bear, who has been hard at work helping wildlife rescue efforts in Queensland and New South Wales.

But now, another clever canine named Smudge is donning a superhero cape and rescuing koalas in the Blue Mountains.

And we have some questions.

1. How?

According to Dr Kellie Leigh from the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy, the Blue Mountains area is a particularly difficult habitat to survey koalas.

“The trees can be really big, the canopy can be really dense and you just can’t see them by looking.”

Enter Smudge.

Dogs like Smudge are trained to use their heightened sense of smell to sniff out fresh Koala droppings, also known as scat.

“The dog will help us find the scat, if we find fresh scat we can then start focusing on the canopy and doing an intense search and hopefully locate the koala.

Smudge is able to find twice as much scat in five minutes than a team of three skilled searchers would in an hour.

It’s just more proof that once again, we don’t deserve dogs.

2. Do they know they’re saving lives?

Just like any service animal, koala sniffer dogs have been trained to carry out certain tasks.

We can’t help but wonder, do they actually realize they’re saving lives? And not just any lives, they’re helping to save the lives of a vulnerable species? Honestly, they deserve a medal.

And we’re not the only ones who think they deserve a little recognition.

When Actor Tom Hanks heard about Bear, he called for Bear’s story to be made into a movie.

“This is a Disney movie that must be made — the story of Bear, the koala detection dog,” said Hanks during a Twitter interview.

“That’s adorable. I like Bear.” So do we Tom, so do we.

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3. Are they being given sufficient treats for their hard work?

This is a very important question.

After a hard day of searching for wildlife through fire-stricken bushland, these dogs deserve a good belly rub and a Schmacko (the actual branded ones, too).

Well, rest assured. Dog trainer Ryan Tate has confirmed his dog Taylor is generously rewarded for her work.

“She just loves smelling things… but if she smells koala poo or a live koala that’s the icing on the cake,” Mr Tate told ABC news.

“She knows when she smells that she gets told by a million people she’s fantastic and she gets a tennis ball.”

4. They wear socks to protect their paws.

Bear koala saving dog
LOOK. AT. THEM. Image: Facebook/IFAW

Okay, this one is definitely a statement and not a question. But can we all take a moment to appreciate their tiny fire safety socks? 

Even though the dogs are sent into safe burnt-out areas, the socks are still necessary to help protect their paws from the ground.

5. How can we help out our furry friends?

If you want to help, you can donate funds to the organisations below:

Feature Image: Facebook/@sdzglobal and Getty. 

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