Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Why Are Conservation Dogs So Expensive To Train?

The Cost of Conservation Detection!

The cost of training a detection dog can be extremely high for various reasons but the most common is just the day to day expense of caring for a dog.  Just one year's worth of basic costs like, housing, vet care and food totals roughly $13,875.  That is not including fuel, travel and the training costs involved.  Nor does that include the amount to purchase a puppy from a reputable breeder should you go that route versus getting lucky enough to rescue one or have one donated who is suitable for the work.  A $20,000 price tag funding goal is not far off from the reality of costs associated with a highly trained detection dog and no added "fluff."   

I am often asked why fund raising efforts include such high total $ goals.  There are numerous hours put into a dog being trained for detection and often those costs are never recouped by the trainer.  In my case, I love the process and my passion for working with these amazing creatures and doing something for the greater good out ways my greed.   I feed my soul but must still break even, so this means fundraising drives are crucial.  

In the case of Tau, we have additional regulatory costs associated with him going to Hawaii.  It is imperative that he and Cheryl have hands on training time with nests,  with the trainer on hand, to work out any issues and to allow them to be a cohesive team.  That is why we are reaching out for funding.  There are no frills associated with this project and at the moment we are no where near our goal.  The entire Tau The Honu Hound Crew has been completely dedicated to the success of this important project.  They have donated not only their talents ie: professional photographs, phenomenal video but more importantly their valuable time.

Our goal is to get Tau to Hawaii this year for the Honu season, and to also meet up with Cheryl down south to get some hands on time for them to start their partnership.  None of this is possible without the generous donations and we appreciate everyone of you who has already given to this project.  

Please consider promoting our project, every dollar is relevant and vital to saving Sea Turtles and getting Tau to Hawaii.  

Thank you for your consideration and support.

Athena & The Tau Crew

Friday, September 11, 2015

Why Tau is needed on Maui…

Entangled Hawksbill Hatchling

Cheryl King here, the marine biologist who will be working with Tau in Hawai`i (I’m so excited!).  I’ve been running the Hawksbill Recovery Project on Maui since 2000, and over these 16 seasons there have been so many incidences when having Tau here would’ve greatly benefited the turtles.  Having worked with nesting sea turtles for nearly 20 years, I’ve certainly learned how to spot nests, but Hawaiian beaches provide extra challenges.

Here’s my Top 10 List of Why Finding Sea Turtle Nests in Hawai`i is Difficult:

1) Hundreds of miles of coastline: much of which is potential nesting habitat (despite most of it being suboptimal due to multiple factors).
2) Non-continuous beaches: there are many different types of pocket beaches and some aren’t easily accessible unlike on the East Coast of the USA, where turtle patrollers can drive an ATV along the coast for miles and find nests right away.
3) Vegetation: the nesters have a difficult time digging through some of the often thick dune vegetation, and the lack of sand cues makes it tricky to identify the nest locations.
4) Hawksbills are very discrete nesters, if they can find a good spot right away: if we don’t watch them lay their eggs it’s very difficult to know if they nested and where the nest actually is.
5) High tides, big surf and strong tradewinds: these factors can quickly erase any signs of the tracks and clues to where the nest is.
6) Eroding coastlines: storms and sea level rise are negatively affecting our beaches.
7) Lack of awareness: most people don’t recognize turtle tracks as something they should report, so we’re likely not receiving some nesting/hatching information.
8) Shortage of volunteers: we simply don’t currently have the volunteer capacity to patrol all Hawaiian beaches every morning during nesting season (which starts in May).
9) Relatively low numbers of nests: Hawaiian hawksbills are critically endangered with likely fewer than 100 nesting females, and most Hawaiian green sea turtles (listed as threatened) nest in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.
10) We’ve been waiting for Tau to be our sea turtle conservation ambassador!

Why is it important that we find the nests?  This will allow us to calculate when the female may return to lay more nests, so we start patrolling for her at night to protect her during that process, and then we know right where those nests are. 

We then can save the hatchlings from the following dangers:
1) Predators while in the nest:  mongooses dig up the eggs.
2) Predators while emerging from the nest: crabs, mongooses, cats, dogs, and birds.
3) Coastal lighting often disorients the hatchlings, which can lead them into dangerous situations like roads and backyards where they waste their valuable energy.
4) If they emerge during the day, they can quickly become dehydrated and die in the hot sun if they’re not rescued.
5) They often get entangled in the dune vegetation (see photo).
6) They’re subject to harassment from people who don’t know that they should let them crawl to the ocean on their own.

Tau will also provide:
Close companionship that will offer more balance in my hectic life, an exercise partner, protection in unsafe situations, a predator deterrent at the nests, and a fun educational link to the community (especially kids).

We’ve saved thousands of sea turtles, and with Tau’s help we’ll be even more efficient at doing so!  I can’t thank the Tau Team enough for facilitating this long-time dream, and can’t wait to have them come to Maui! 

Mahalo (thank you) for your support!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Children, Teachers of the Present and Future!

 Children....the magical creatures of the future!

Much of working with amazing working dogs involves Public Relations appearances.  I have learned over the years what works with what dogs.  I certainly advocate doing outreach as a form of education.  Children are the conduit to send information to adults.  Little people have not lost the ability to dream, imagine and speak.  They love to tell about things they learn and will tell anyone who will listen. The excitement in their voices is contagious if you take the time to really listen.  We as adults have learned how to multi task and often miss out on what the kiddos are telling us.  

I always smile when I encounter a child who is telling his or her parent about one of the dogs and what they do.  It makes my job easy because it is coming from a child's perspective and seems so much more exciting.  Children see the world with awe and wonder.  They have not grown skeptical and bitter from years of reality of life.  Most remain innocent and dream of great things. Fairies, Super Heroes and Mystical Creatures still exist in their minds.  Perhaps all adults could learn valuable lessons from our youngest generation.  Learn tolerance, learn to imagine, dream and become color blind.  We could all benefit from learning to accept that sometimes just because we don't agree doesn't make us wrong-just different.  In a World full of anger and hate the children of the Nation still remain our greatest gift and are the future.   

I challenge all the adults reading this to take a moment to listen to a child today-really listen!  Stop what you are doing and truly engage in the moment.  In an age of electronics we lose ourselves to the to the email and to do list at our fingertips never recognizing the example we set for those who watch our every move.  We forget to slow down and breathe-I am guilty of becoming victim to the new age frenzy to remain connected yet disconnected from what matters.  It is such an ingrained form of life that, I too get lost in the ability to have every moment of the day consumed with a virtual world of connection.  I am realizing that the more connected I am to the electronic gadgets, the less connected I am to the people who matter most.  I can be reached at all hours of the day via, cell, text, email, message, alert.....I have the power to stop the madness!  I am making a conscious effort to unplug each day and spend time listening and talking with the people who matter.  

As a society, the days of calling someone to say "I love you" or "Happy Birthday" is a thing of the past.  We would rather text or message or post on social media never realizing that the lack of reaching out to the ones we care about, is setting the stage for our children to continue the trend of losing human interaction.  I was struck by the realization that for the two hours I was at the "Hometown Heroes" event hosted by Winter's Library and the Optimist Club, I did not look at emails and texts but rather engaged in the community members and their children who came out to see the dogs.  These  photographs captured by my talented friend, Nick, reminded me of how important it is to remain connected to the children we have the honor to interact with.  To truly listen to their stories, thoughts and ideas.  They are our future and if we don't teach them to be engaged with nature, people and life....who will?  

This blog was inspired by the children who came out yesterday and reminded me to stop and smell the roses!  Life is not always about the next deadline but rather about embracing the moments-and just noticing the life lesson.  Tau had a great time meeting everyone and we can't wait to spend more time learning from the children we encounter on this journey!  

Now, unplug, and take a walk with a child-the very best moments will be inspired by their thoughts and dreams!


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Down Your Dog; Down Your Wine, Yoga at the Vineyard Event!

 Down Your Dog; 

Down Your Wine

Yoga at the Vineyard Event! 

Caesar Creek Vineyard is partnering with The Tau Project for our Yoga at the Vineyard Event! 

Come join us for a relaxing gentle yoga practice overlooking the vineyard.  
(no previous yoga experience necessary) 

 Saturday, July 25, 2015

Caesar Creek Vineyards are located at:
 962 Long Road
 Xenia, OH 45385

Reserve Your Spot Now
Pre-register for $25 per person
$30 Same day registration
* We will have mats available
-please bring one if you have one.

A tasting of the select Caesar Creek wines and a complimentary Tau Project Wine Glass is included.  

Come enjoy the lovely Caesar Creek Vineyards, 
relax, reconnect and taste.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Rubbish Is Ruining Our World!

Plastic and Other Rubbish!

entangled monk seal
photo courtesy of HWF

Did you know that the fish we consume from the Ocean are contaminated with toxins because of plastic and other trash the human tosses?  How often do you notice rubbish strewn along roadways and water ways?  This is a very serious problem. In today's society we have all things plastic - water bottles, food containers and packaging.  Then there is all the plastic that covers every item we buy.  We recycle right?  I do but I had no clue of the impact my consumerism has on animals, the environment and even my family until I started to really research.  I am an Earth Day advocate, a yogi who believes wholeheartedly that we should all be aware of what we consume and how it affects the earth and all those who reside here.  What I found horrifying is data from a study by Chelsea Rochwan, a post doctorate researcher at UC Davis. The data indicates the following; in 2009, the National Academy of Sciences estimated that around 6.4 million tons of litter enters the world’s oceans annually.  Imagine in 2015 what that number is! How many of us love the serene beauty of a coastline?  We find peace and tranquility from the ocean breeze combined with the lovely sound of the sea dancing on the shore, yet we are the biggest contributors to the demise of these glorious beaches.  

Plastic Marine Debris
photo courtesy of HWF
"In the ocean waters between Hawaii and Japan is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, filled with plastic, chemical sludge and other debris that has been trapped by the currents of the North Pacific Ocean’s gyre. The patch, covers an area the size of Turkey" according to Greenpeace International "We humans are entirely responsible for this mess."  

This in itself should be a huge wake up call for any human who enjoys the beauty of nature and our environment yet there is no stopping the plastic and other trash that permeates the earth.  What a tragedy it is that boys and girls cannot play, swim or surf in the water off the Los Angeles coast because of the water pollution.  When did human consumption and laziness replace all forms of common sense?  We all have an obligation to our earth yet we continue to use plastic because it is easier.  The effects of plastic toxicity on our bodies and those of our children is another factor in all of this. Think about this; when plastic particles begin to decompose into the ocean, small organisms mistakenly eat them. Small fish then consume these small organisms. This is how toxins enter the food chain.   Other animals also consume trash and plastic.  This is a scary fact, yet everyday, we see water bottles floating in the sea or strewn along every roadway and waterway in America.  

In Bellbrook, Ohio the rubbish problem is so bad that two ladies go on a daily walk and pick up trash along our roadways.  These lovely woman are seen routinely in different areas and never without a bag of garbage they have picked up from our lovely little town.  How sad is it that each day they will find trash along the very same route they traveled the day before.  What if everyone took the time to pick up trash and taught our children to also be aware and pick up garbage they see strewn around.  Bellbrook has a Sugar Maple Festival every April and the past several years have had a Recycling Art Show for children yet there is still an abundance of garbage polluting our lovely small City.  Thank goodness for those who do pick up after the inconsiderate masses who choose to litter.  I applaud these lovely ladies and I encourage everyone to consider switching from plastic.  It is a very difficult proposition because as consumers we use disposable plastic straws, cutlery, plates, cups, bottles, bags on a daily basis. Imagine if everyone decided to stop using these products and took the time to use non-disposable items.  What a difference that would make.  

I am certainly guilty of consumerism of plastic but reminding myself to reconsider what I use in my own home and not always take the easier less time consuming path is a good reality check. I do try to use biodegradable poop bags for picking up dog waste (another pet peeve of mine but that is better left for another time.) I will continue this trend but I warn you all biodegradable poop bags are not created equal. One particular little white version shrivels up as soon as the moist excrement hits it....not a pleasant experience for the human.  Choose wisely but do consider not only picking up your dog's waste but use a biodegradable bag to do it.  I will also be more prepared with all my cool little fabric bags for grocery store items that are tucked in all nooks and crannies of my vehicles.  Using less plastic in my meal plans is really a no-brainer because, who doesn't love a fun family meal with real plates, glasses and cutlery cooked with whole, non GMO foods and organic produce?  It is a lost art to sit down and discuss the goodness and blessings of the day without the crazy buzz of electronic interruptions and the rush of life.  

I am writing this to bring awareness of an epidemic that is leaving our world a polluted mess. That leaves our animals sick, injured or dead while also polluting our own bodies with toxins that we originally disgarded in the first place without thought of where they may end up. It has certainly been an eye opener for me and I will make every effort to continue to recycle but will also take the time to buy items that do not include plastic. The transition is not easy because we have all gotten used to a disposable world yet we should really head the mantra Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Re-purpose!  Our future and the future of our children, wildlife and pets depends on it! Consider making a small change today and pick up the rubbish left by others as well.  
What does all this have to do with Tau you ask? Tau will be running on the beaches of Maui and will be exposed to the garbage left by humans or the debris that washes up on the shores.  He will splash in the contaminated ocean and be exposed to toxins left behind.  He cannot pick up the rubbish on the shoreline for fear of him ingesting a poison, getting impaled on a fish hook or eating a piece of trash that could cause a foreign body obstruction.  The Hawaii Wildlife Fund statistics on debris clean up are staggering as well.  Take a moment to look at the suggestions they have for  10 things you can do to reduce marine debris.  Education is key and everyone of us can make a difference to make our planet a better one.