Dogs can be trained to do a multitude of tasks. Most can learn to sit, lie and stay; others can guide the blind, rescue the injured and maybe even detect cancer. But the hardest thing of all might be to train them to do nothing. Stop scratching. Don't wag your tail. Don't drool. Don't even lick your chops.
Gracie has been training with Ally Cowan at the Wind River Bear Institute. Today they're trying to herd five sheep into a wooden corral, in a grassy valley a few hours south of Glacier National Park in Montana.
"Getting a border collie to drive, basically stay behind and push forward is a bit tougher," Cowan says. "For Gracie, we are working against that instinct a little bit, because for a wild goat, we don't want her bringing them closer to people; we want her pushing them away."
In recent years, the Samish River Basin in Skagit County has suffered severe pollution from fecal coliform bacteria. Water polluted with untreated sewage and manure leads to frequent closures of shellfish beds and beaches. County authorities are testing a new method to find the sources: poop-sniffing dogs.
Fishermen around the Northwest are enjoying some exceptional salmon runs this autumn. Puget Sound is teeming with pink salmon and there's a record-breaking fall Chinook run in the Columbia and Snake Rivers. But as fish move upstream to spawn, danger lurks for dogs.
Dr. Scott Capsey had his first encounter with "salmon poisoning" years before he became a vet. His family's normally exuberant golden retriever mysteriously turned lethargic, had diarrhea and lots of vomiting.
"They didn't know if she was going to make it. I remember that conversation,” Capsey said.
TURNER, Ore. - When a dog finds its first truffle -- the fungus, not the chocolate candy -- the sound you hear will most likely be the voice of a very excited dog handler.
And you might be as excited as Mia MacCollin of Bend if your pet showed an aptitude to find buried treasure. And treasure it is. The native Oregon white truffle can fetch several hundred dollars per pound at retail.
People in the Northwest are among the most likely in the nation to have pets. That's according to a new survey by the American Veterinary Medical Association. Washington, Oregon and Idaho rank in the top 10 for pet-owning households – with Oregon at No. 4, Washington at No. 6 and Idaho at No. 9.
Tom Meyer is a veterinarian in Vancouver, Wash. and sits on the board of the national vet group. He says it's not clear why the Northwest ranks so high, though rural states tend to have greater rates of pet ownership than more urban ones.
Nancy's pretty let down about this. Not so much that she can't bring her own but that she won't get to watch the dogs others bring. In Seattle dogs are allowed at some farmers markets and banned at others.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has increased its Karelian Bear Dog force by fifty percent. This breed of working dog has proven effective against nuisance bears. The idea is to re-instill fear of human neighborhoods.
A Pierce County dog trainer is fielding heaps of praise for saving the life of Sugar, a 4-year old boxer. The animal collapsed during a training class Saturday. Ron Pace said when he saw the animal fall, his instincts took over, according to the News Tribune's Sara Schilling:
Pace, 54, who owns Canyon Crest K9 Training Center in the Summit/Waller Road area, used a version of CPR to get Sugar breathing again...
It took about two minutes of steady massage to the dogs chest, and a couple of breaths into the animal's mouth, to help bring Sugar around, to the delight and relief of the dog's owner, Tiffany Kauth of Bremerton.