Border Collies are known for their focus and drive to work. A group of these herding dogs in Chili is working to make a major impact on the environment. And they are having a blast while doing it!
Wildfires Wiped Out Large Areas of Forest
In 2017, wildfires swept through the forests across the entire country of Chile. Recorded as the worst wildfires in the country’s history, more than 1.4 million acres of forest were burned. Evacuations were necessary, at least 11 people lost their lives, and over 1000 buildings were destroyed. It was a devastating event with widespread damage.
Working to Rebuild the Scorched Landscape
Wildfires decimate forests, leaving nothing behind by charred remains. The soil itself is sucked dry and only with time can plants, grasses, and trees begin to take root once again. It is a challenging task to bring life back to such damaged earth but the Chilean people, and some dogs, are up to the task and contributing all they can to the effort.
Two Sisters Put Their Pack of Border Collies to Work
Francisca and Constanza Torres are sisters. Torres heads up a dog-oriented environmental community called Pewos and is also a trainer of assistance dogs. Das is six years old and the leader. Olivia and Summer, Das’s own pups, are about two years old and follow mom’s lead.
This pack, along with the help of some other pups, have been working to spread seeds across the bare forest. They have outfitted them with specially-designed backpacks stuffed full of native plant seeds, which are then spread as the dogs hike and run through the landscape.
The sisters were interviewed by Treehugger, a part of the Mother Nature Network. In that interview, Francisca said, “It’s a country trip, where they can run as fast as they can and have a great time. We come out with the dogs and the backpacks full of native seeds, and they run for the burned forest spreading the seeds.”
The Dogs Love the Work and the Treats
Like all Border Collies, this group really enjoys the job! They are positively reinforced for their efforts. When they return to their handlers for a seed refill, they are rewarded with treats. When they finish spreading seeds, they are also rewarded with treats. The dogs love running and working and they think the “pay” is pretty great, too.
These hardworking dogs cover a ton of ground. They can cover up to 18 miles in a single day, distributing more than 20 pounds of seeds along the way! “We have seen many results in flora and fauna coming back to the burned forest!” Torres told Treehugger.
Our hats go off to these sisters for implementing this innovative program for rebuilding the burned forests of Chile. Keep up the hard work Das, Olivia, and Summer!
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