Remember Bear, the rescue dog who saved 100 koalas during the Australian “Black Summer” bushfires of 2019? Bear is a dog surrendered by his family because of his obsessive compulsive tendencies and high energy. The Border Collie/Koolie mix went on to use his drive and special detection skills to save animals at risk of perishing in the devastating fires.
At the House of Lords this week, Bear earned a special medal from the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW). As if it wasn’t enough that he stole the world’s hearts for his life-saving work, including actor Tom Hanks, he’s now a certified hero.
Bear’s handler Romane Cristescu, who accepted the award on his behalf, said:
“‘He’s been such a good boy in helping us find and rescue a lot of koalas, especially during the bushfires, but he works throughout the year to help us in our job to make a better and safer place for koalas.”
This award-winning hero dog is really showing up the family that abandoned him. So many animals have benefitted from his talent since he was given up. He bravely endures the harsh fiery conditions to do his job.
Conservations and animal handlers love working with Bear too. Bear and these humans form a team, with the dog using his scent skills and hyper-focus to sniff out koalas, then alerting the humans when he senses one.
You can learn more about how Bear performs his duties and where he learned these special koala detecting skills by reading the original post below. This video also explains a little about how Bear saves the koalas and his background:
Dogs continue to amaze us with their incredible abilities. Their superior sense of smell can help detect health issues or illegal substances. For some dogs, that sense of smell can also help save other animals from danger.
Bear is one of those super-dogs saving animal lives with his sniffing skill. The Border Collie/Koolie mix uses his powerful nose to rescue koalas threatened by devastating fires in Australia.
Braving Threatening Conditions To Save Koalas
Dangerous bushfires have been raging throughout New South Wales. While this has been harmful to many, it’s especially devastating for the local [already endangered] koala populations.
As a detection dog, Bear is trained to locate live koalas by the scent of their fur. He runs through flaming forests to retrieve them. International Fund for Animal Welfare wrote on Facebook how valuable Bear’s talents are.
“We’re providing aid to our local partners Friends of the Koala who are rescuing burned wildlife—but Australia’s animals need more heroes to save them from this ongoing disaster. Our koala detection dog Bear is an integral part of these rescue efforts.”
Bear has already been deployed to some of the hardest hit areas, including southeast Queensland.
The post goes on:
“These devastating fires have destroyed critical koala habitat and claimed the lives of hundreds of koalas and other native wildlife, so Bear’s powerful nose is an important asset in locating survivors.”
IFAW wildlife campaigner Josey Sharrad told Brisbane Times that Bear is a Godsend during an extremely difficult time.
“Now, more than ever, saving individual koalas is critical. With such an intense start to the bushfire season, it will be many weeks and months before some of these fires are out.”
How Bear Got His Job
Bear’s journey to his awesome career started with a disorder. His owners surrendered him when he was diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder. His OCD didn’t exactly make him a good family animal, as dogs with this condition don’t really like to play. However, it made him an ideal detection dog.
The University of the Sunshine Coast rescued Bear from the shelter and began training him to track koalas. The pup more than excelled at this task.
Bear is actually the only dog in the entire country who can track down a koala based on both the scents of its feces and its fur! Rebekka Thompson-Jones from the International Fund for Animal Welfare explained how Bear’s job works.
“Once he finds a koala, he sits very still to indicate to a human that he is near a koala. He’s then rewarded with a ball which he’ll chase.”
For now, Bear and the rest of his human team are on standby waiting to help out wherever they’re needed in New South Wales and Queensland. If you want to help the koalas and the hard-working Bear, you can donate here.