The Conservation Canines deploy their team of scat detection dogs on projects around the world, using non-invasive techniques to collect vast amounts of information on threatened and endangered wildlife, helping to make important progress on conservation and habitat protection. As Ruffwear ambassadors, they put our gear to the test in the harshest environments for days or even weeks at a time, providing valuable feedback to our product development team. We’re grateful for their conservation efforts, Ruffwear product testing feedback, and friendship. In honor of Earth Day (which is every day!), we’re rolling out a series of stories about some of the dogs on the Conservation Canines team, told from the perspective of each dog. First up is Casey, a little dog with a big job!

They said I was the first of a new line of CK9.
They described me as a much smaller, sleeker model.
They knew I showed huge potential as Conservation Canine’s latest secret weapon…

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But first, the back story.

It was a cold winter’s day, the kind of cold that Jack Russells have no business being in, when two folks came strolling into Silverdale Animal Shelter. They did as the usual people did and saw a few potential dogs, but I found out from my neighbor Gabby, that they were conducting “interviews.” The bearded one opened Gabby’s kennel, while the manager said, “Oh, she’s got what you’re looking for!” Just then a gorgeous petite blonde came up to my door and the kennel manager gave her the same look. The blonde skeptically took the leash of what they later described as “a tiny, scruffy, high-strung Jack Russell name Jedi.” Yeah, that was my name, I had the moves…though I was pretty roughed up at the time. I was a sad little sight who hopped on three legs and had a definite case of “the kennel coughs.”

I tried asking my blonde crush what kind of interviews they were conducting, but all ICasey.png got out of her was, “I have never liked small dogs, I despise them actually, so what do I do with this little wiry mop?” Needless to say she did not look pleased and honestly looked a little confused. She sighed and glanced over to the bearded one who was having fun playing fetch with a “real dog” like Gabby. Sighing once more, she took off my leash, reached out a beautiful fuzzy green OMG BALL! ahem. Sorry about that. Anyway I showed her my prowess by skipping off to get it, came back to show her and ran off to my man corner and proceeded to rip the ball to shreds for I am a tiny destroyer. Once I came to, both the blonde and the bearded one were watching me. Dang, I blew it!

They left me there. But there was a lot of talk about me and my “tiny potential.” As they walked out, I noticed my blonde turn her head one last time before I left.

So there I was, at the Conservation Canines facility. Yup, I was a University of Washington employee! I certainly didn’t fetch, but I played tug and trying to take the ball from me was like trying to pry fresh prey out of a crocodile’s bite. I was also an escape artist who bolted into the woods at any given or taken opportunity. They knighted me as Casey, “A little tyrant who got into trouble and proved that nothing was inaccessible to him, he was once spotted on top of a refrigerator, breaking into a secret stash of toys.”

I’ll take it!

But the there was a hope. A new project was on the horizon and with the right amount of training they would need a special dog for this mission.

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Looking for the tiny Pacific Pocket mouse in southern California’s delicate sandy environment seemed like my calling. I was small and agile; able to survey more carefully than our larger CK9’s…

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It was soon decided that I had strengths elsewhere. Honestly, I HATED the early morning wake up calls to be in the field. After much discussion, it was decided that I was needed in the classroom. Yeah, my big brother Sampson is the face of the new SCaT! Education Program, but because of my “sleek and more compact model“ I started tagging in when there are teeny tiny budding biologists in a room and spaces where a big ball-crazy black lab can be just too much.

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These days you can find me sharing my “Little Dog with a Big Job” story, along with the importance of conservation in hopes of inspiring generations to come. OR you can find me in front of the fireplace with my newest snazzy warm jacket as a proud ambassador of the Conservation Canine program.

Thanks for sharing your story, Casey and Conservation Canines! Stay tuned for more canine stories in the coming weeks and months, and in the meantime, follow Conservation Canines on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook for all the latest updates on these special dogs and their important work!

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