Get to Know K9 Conservationists Co-Founder Rachel Hamre

In this episode of K9 Conservationists, Kayla interviews co-founder Rachel Hamre. They discuss how Rachel first got into dog training, her many jobs as a field tech, how she and Kayla met, Rachel’s season handling Barley, and her journey with her new dog Suki. Science Highlight: Why Sniff Fast? The Relationship Between Sniff Frequency, Odor Discrimination, and Receptor Neuron Activation in the Rat (https://journals.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/jn.90981.2008) 

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Transcript (AI-Generated)

Kayla Fratt 0:10
Hello and welcome to the canine conservationist podcast where we’re positively obsessed with conservation detection dogs. Join us every week to discuss ecology, odor dynamics, the dog behavior and everything in between. I’m your host, Kayla Fratt. And I am a co founder of canine conservationists, where we train dogs to detect data for researchers, agencies and NGOs. I am still sick. So I do apologize for my voice. But you’re going to enjoy this episode. Anyway. So do stick around. We are talking today with Rachel hammary about how she ended up in the conservation detection dog world. The work that we’re doing together with canine conservationist and just kind of a general get to know you for the other one of the other two people that is heavily involved in canine conservationist, since I know our podcast listeners know me relatively well at this point. So welcome to the podcast, Rachel. Hey, thank you. So Rachel, I tasked you with doing our science highlight for the week. So why don’t you start us off with the signs that you’ve picked out? Yeah, so I found one called Why sniff fast the relationship between sniff frequency odor discrimination and receptor neuron activation in the rat. So this was on rats, not dogs, but related to sniffing and scent detection. And it looks like it was published in 2009. In the Journal of Neurophysiology, yes, so I’m just gonna read the discussion from part of this. It’s a it was a pretty interesting study. So the discussion says, in general, this study fails to support the idea that the specialized high frequency sniffing behavior typically seen during odor discrimination tasks, influences odor coding or enhances low level information processing. What then is the functional role of rapid sniffing during odor discriminations. Our data suggests that the primary consequence of rapid sniffing is to expedite odor delivery to O R ns. Thus, rapid sniffing is an indicator of an animal’s search for the stimulus rather than its need to enhance information processing. Interesting. Okay, so basically, yeah, yeah, this was an interesting one, I haven’t read the paper. So basically, what you’re saying is that when they’re they’re doing this really like fast sniffing was like,

Rachel Hamre 6:05
Yeah, yeah. Oh, cool. Um, and yeah, I was kind of always trying to bring home random animals. I had some pet crawdads, a pet pig, he was super smart, and really fun to train.

Kayla Fratt 2:19
that wasn’t necessarily correlated with difficulty, but more with how motivated they were.

Rachel Hamre 2:28
If you have done like any scent work with your dog, you’ve probably noticed them do some Gallic rapid sniffing like a type of thing that is pretty specific to scent tasks. So this is another excerpt it says, we found that sniffing strategies remained unchanged, even as task difficulty was increased to the point of discrimination failure, indicating that rats do not alter sniffing strategy to improve performance and implying that sniffing strategy does not substantially alter discriminability or detection threshold.

Kayla Fratt 2:59
The one thing that like stuck out to me a little bit when you sent it over to me was that these rats were in kind of, they were in like, a head cage holding their heads still, which I assume was basically to ensure that they could actually get really good footage and count these sniffs and like code the video.

Rachel Hamre 3:18
It was also they also measure, like the pressure that the rat puts when it moves its head a certain direction. And they can also use those head fixing machines to, like, weigh how much weight the rat is putting on their front feet. And they also did something inter nasally that they could measure the sniff rate.

Kayla Fratt 3:45
Whoa. And these are the sorts of studies that yeah, this is in rats, because we would not really do this to dogs. Sorry, rats that you get stuck with this one. Yeah, so so this was pretty much a discrimination test, though. They weren’t really doing detection, right?

Rachel Hamre 4:04
Yes, that’s true. It looked relatively complicated, but they would vary the concentrations of the odor by like mixing the target odor in a higher or lower ratio with other other non target odors. Yeah, okay.

Kayla Fratt 4:23
Yeah, because one of the things that like kind of came up to me when I was also reading this and realizing that it was more, it was pretty focused on discrimination is I wonder if the rapid sniffing is more important for detection or like following a gradient of like an odor cone or something. And I know in the, the austere camp book that I just read detection dogs and scent movements, they kind of hypothesized that. One of the things that rabid sniffing may help with is also kind of disturbing odor molecules and volatilizing them especially in like dry or dusty environments. So I’d be really curious to maybe even use the like, we can do this some other time. But kind of go back and look at like, what other papers have cited this paper and like what is kind of built on this for detection instead of discrimination? Cool. Yeah, I might actually have to dig up this paper and read it. It sounds pretty technical, but pretty cool. Okay, so Rachel, why don’t you start off telling us what you like, kind of go back? Like, what were you like, as a kid? And how does that, you know, through the context of knowing now you’re in this conservation detection dog world where you like, always into dogs? Were you always into conservation? Where Where did you kind of grow up? And how has that influenced where you are now?

Rachel Hamre 5:38
Yeah, that’s a good question. Um, I think I was always pretty into animals and behavior. I remember having a little feather cat toy and using it to, like, play with my cat and give him treats when he would, you know, do cool flips in the air to catch the feather toy. And in reality, I was teaching him nothing. But in my head, I was having a great time teaching him how to do flips.

Rachel Hamre 6:21
And I kind of got into, or, like, more officially into the behavior side of things and like, actually understanding animal behavior when I adopted a dog when I was 12. And she was really scared of people pretty scared of everything. And so I kind of just found myself as a 12 year old going to a lot of training classes. Actually, at the same place where Kayla and I

Kayla Fratt 6:49
were, we have like a mutual training a mentor. We were not there at the same time. But Miguel Gonzalez at all read rescue and training in Colorado Springs has worked with both of us, me when I was like 21. And Rachel, when you were like when I was like, 1213. So big, little shout out to Miguel.

Rachel Hamre 7:09
Yeah, I got into dog training that way, and kind of just realized that I was really into it and have continued to get more and more passionate about dog training since then, the conservation side of things I sort of fell into. My granddad was really into biology and stuff like that. And so I think I got some interest in just like, living things and ecology, and stuff like that from him. And then in college, I was a biology major. And my first job out of college was working with Fish and Game looking at a rare plant. And I was kind of just entrenched in the conservation, and botany. And environmental world from from there on.

Kayla Fratt 8:03
Yeah, yeah. And you’ve had a bunch of really interesting a seasonal fields positions throughout that time were that were there any like classes or professors or anything that had a big impact in you while you were in undergrad?

Rachel Hamre 8:16
Yeah, um, one of my favorite professors, Dr. Mansfield was the head of the herbarium in my school. And so I, I got a job working in the herbarium. And that was probably the start of my plant and botany career, which makes sense. And I yeah, I kind of hadn’t really planned on falling into plants. But that was like a job that was available to me. And I got one job in that and the resume continued from there.

Kayla Fratt 8:48
It is funny how that happened. I remember panicking right after college when I so I got a job as the I was the communications and outreach intern for conservation Colorado. And I applied for a job as a behavior, behaviorist at the Denver animal shelter. And they rejected me for the job and suggested I applied to be their communications intern instead. And I had this like panic attack where I was like, no, no, no, I want to work with the dogs and do the stuff. I don’t want to just run social media. And luckily, I was then hired by Denver dumb friends League, which is another shelter in the Denver area, and kind of was able to like, wrench my resume out of going that direction. But it’s funny how it will sometimes build on itself like that.

Rachel Hamre 9:30
Yeah, just find yourself there. And yeah, I’ve ended up here, which I’m super happy about.

Kayla Fratt 9:36
Yeah, I mean, in retrospect, there’s a lot of really good things I learned in that conservation Colorado job that I’m really glad I had. I just really didn’t want to accidentally end up in this position where I was like, a professional media manager for the rest of my life, even though that kind of is what I am.

Kayla Fratt 9:53
Yeah. Well, immediate. So okay, so you had the job do ringabel plant stuff and this was an Idaho right? Yes. Yeah. What would have been some of your other like field positions since then?

Rachel Hamre 10:08
Um, I have done some stream surveys identifying plants along river beds, basically. I worked on a sage grouse conservation project, also doing a lot of plants. I have done some trail crew, I guess that’s not really plant related. Yeah, pretty. It’s a lot of my Yeah, I think most of my summers have been filled with various plant projects that relate to other conservation. Tangentially.

Kayla Fratt 10:45
Yeah, so it sounds like the first time Cana and conservationists gets a weed project if it’s only a one dog, one handler thing we’re sending

Rachel Hamre 10:51
you. Sure. Yeah. That sounds great.

Kayla Fratt 10:54
Great. Yeah. I know. When I was doing the dyers wood projects back when I was at WD 40. I am not a huge plant person. And I was like, having to text Dr. Nigel Richards every, like 20 minutes. And it’s like 5am. It’s barely laid out. Because that was what it was cool enough to work. I was texting her pictures. I’m like every third rose that I saw being like this, isn’t it? Is it? And it never was.

Rachel Hamre 11:17
You just have to tell by the way it is. Yeah,

Kayla Fratt 11:20
exactly. It works with ash trees. I don’t know if it works with anything else. Yeah, so then, you know, also after college, because so you don’t have the stock that you got when you were 12 anymore. I suppose she would be like 18. Now. Not quite that old. But what has been kind of your dog journey journey since that one, kind of lift off dock in Colorado Springs.

Rachel Hamre 11:42
Yeah, I got really into dog training with her when I was 12. Kind of. She died when I was in college. And then I kind of had a gap where it didn’t make sense for me to have a dog of my own. But I felt like I had learned a lot of dog training stuff. And so I’d, you know, friends would sometimes ask me things and I’d like give them little, like tidbits of advice. And then one of my college friends adopted a dog. But she wasn’t allowed to have dogs in her place. But I was allowed in mind. And so I kind of had him with me for a while. And he was super fun, super smart. And then another gap of not really having dogs in my life traveling, working outside too much stuff like that. But then I ended up in a place where I could foster dogs kind of seasonally. And so at this point, I think I’ve fostered something like 22 dogs. And so that’s kind of just holding on to what other whatever dogs need a place to live until they find their permanent home. And my favorite part about that was definitely finding either the things that they really needed to work on, or just teaching them fun little tricks that were cute, that would get people’s attention and make them want to adopt them. So I like I had one dog who had a litter of puppies under my kitchen table that we’re sitting at right now. Yeah, Kayla got to see them. Like, what within the first couple of

Kayla Fratt 13:12
weeks. I was there while they were while Mama was in labor, but I didn’t actually, I only had like 45 minutes. So I missed any puppies actually coming out. That’s right.

Rachel Hamre 13:21
I forgotten about that. Yeah, so that was a really fun one. Worked on some I had I ended up with a lot of dogs who just had a lot of energy and really needed somebody who could exercise them and also just mentally stimulate and enrich them. Those are probably some of the most rewarding most fun.

Kayla Fratt 13:41
Yeah, yeah, no, I’m on fostering is such a cool way as a especially, I mean, really at any stage in your training journey, but like you learned so much. And then as far as Senate work goes, Did you did you do set work with any of your dogs before you got hired with West or how did your How did your scent org journey go? And what are Yeah,

Rachel Hamre 14:03
yeah, um, when I was like 14, I had taken like a scent work class with that same fearful dog. And that was super fun. I honestly, probably didn’t remember a whole lot from it since I was pretty young. I remembered it being fun. And then yeah, I didn’t really have a whole lot of centric experience. Since then. I had gotten interested in a different organization who also used detection dogs. And so I like kind of started teaching myself about it and stuff like that. And then met Kayla and really started learning a lot about it from her and barley, and then had barley and then changed my own dog on it. And it’s been a lot of learning just in the last couple of years or so. Yeah,

Kayla Fratt 14:55
I think you kind of like you and me and Heather. We all kind of have epitomized like, it’s pretty typical, like early entry into this field sort of person where we have this background in conservation or zoology or biology or ecology or whatever it is. And we have some dog experience. And then it’s just this kind of like slow melding of figuring out how to mush those worlds together. And then all the other additional, highly specialized learning that needs to come from that, because there’s a lot you can know about conservation and a lot you can know about dog training, and then still have these big gaps as far as the conservation detection dog side of things goes. So yeah, why don’t you guessed this is funny, it almost feels like we’re like at a wedding being like, so tell us how you met. But like, so we we met on Bumble BFF. So we were not trying to date each other. We were looking for friends in Missoula, and met kind of mid pandemic, like it was like late 2020, right.

Rachel Hamre 15:57
Something like that. I vaguely remember. I think not that long after I had first moved to Missoula, we matched. And I remember being like, Oh, we like this is like the one person on here that I really need to hang out with. And I don’t know what happened.

Kayla Fratt 16:12
I don’t know either. I remember the same thing because you had a really cool picture of you with a you had a bird on your glove. So like, like a falconry whatever. And I think it was Wildlife Rehab. Right. That’s,

Rachel Hamre 16:21
yeah, that’s another one I forgot to add in earlier. Yeah. Um, I worked with education, birds for a while. So birds who were injured and could not be released into the wild, and we would hold them on our glove and give presentations to schools or whatever. Yeah, not related to detection dogs, but,

Kayla Fratt 16:40
but hey, it’s, it’s broadly related to conservation, and it’s a lot of animal behavior. I also have gotten that stuck out to me as like the photo that I was like, Oh my gosh, I need to meet this girl. Because I had also I was at the time volunteering at The Wilds guys raptor Rehab Center, here in Missoula, and I one of my first jobs in high school I was working with and training a on releasable American Kestrel. And I’ve always been kind of into falconry as a concept. But so anyway, so we met on Bumble BFF. And then where, yeah, tell us about kind of your early stage of like dipping your toes into conservation detection dog work and how that how that went for you.

Rachel Hamre 17:22
I tell you about like, hanging out with you and barley. Yeah. Yes.

Kayla Fratt 17:26
This is like a little bit of a weird interview. But like, because I was there for it, but but tell our listeners about how it went.

Rachel Hamre 17:35
So Kayla, and I eventually did end up meeting.

Kayla Fratt 17:42
Yeah, yeah, I think we actually met Justin, it was like, days after I was fired from WD 40. See? Maybe the same day? I don’t think it couldn’t have been I was an emotional wreck that day.

Rachel Hamre 17:56
I think it was days later because I remember you being like, yeah, like kind of numb about it.

Kayla Fratt 18:01
You Yeah, cuz I think when we first met I was still working with like, when we were like, chatting online. But yeah, anyway, so and barley and I were not working at the time if I remember. And the first time we met up, we went for a hike. So I had barley with me. Yeah. And I must have not had niffler yet. Yeah.

Rachel Hamre 18:17
Yeah. You were just starting to you were still looking. You’re looking for another dog but weren’t sure yet. Yeah. Anyways, yeah. Okay, so Kayla offered to let me just kind of for fun work with barley. So she went and set out a cotton swab in the middle of some grass. And yeah, I went barley search for it. And I was like, wow, this is like, that was so cool. That was great. Um, and then yeah, we just kind of like became really close friends. And then I got, wow. So we had to think about

Kayla Fratt 18:56
I don’t know, I guess because I think basically, like our first in our first interactions, it became pretty clear pretty quickly that it was like, Okay, we have a ton of overlap of interest in the dog and conservation side. And you were kind of already aware of it interested in conservation detection dogs. So I was like, Well, given that I do this, like, do you want to help me do some training? I feel like that’s where it came about, where I was like, help me set some blind hides. You can be my friend, but also my training assistant. Yeah, sorry. That’s all my friends. And then I think it kind of spiraled from there. When did you? When did you first hear about conservation detection dogs? Do you remember like, how you learned that they existed?

Rachel Hamre 19:33
I had heard about working dogs for conservation a couple years before that, and I applied for them and like, kind of got some interaction, but not a whole lot. And then later, actually, not that, I don’t know, at some point I applied for them again, didn’t end up getting the position. But I kind of got the response. I made it to like the last round of interviews and I kind of got the response. have, we have no constructive criticism for you? We just picked somebody else. And so that was like, very disappointing, but also like, Okay, I am qualified for this.

Kayla Fratt 20:11
You’re in the finalist stage. Yeah. Like at that point, I feel like once you’re on the finalist stage, it’s kind of either luck or Yeah, like, there’s just, it’s not that you could have done something better. It’s just that there was someone else who was better. Or lucky or whatever. Yeah,

Rachel Hamre 20:26
something like that. Yeah. So yeah, sad. Very disappointing, but also a little bit encouraging in that way. And then you got that job with West. And they were, I think, really close to the, like, they were trying to hire somebody, like very last minute. And you were kinda like, well, I have two dogs, Rachel’s taking barley and going to this other wind farm. And they were kind of like, okay, and I said, Great.

Kayla Fratt 20:55
Yeah, yeah. And I honestly, I don’t know what I was thinking. And not that I like regret the decision. But like, niffler, was probably eight months old. At the time, nine months, he was doing really, really well with training. And I had been kind of going back and forth with West about the fact that I was going to probably have two dogs on site with me. And that niffler, I think would be ready, and that he would be totally good. And then when I think Anna, who is the dog coordinator for West, reached out to me kind of saying that they were looking for some very last minute handlers for some openings on a project. It kind of occurred to me that like, Well, I think niffler is good enough. And barley really knows what he’s doing. And Rachel wants to get into this field. And you were you were kind of in a stage where because you were flat, you were working seasonal jobs, and whatever. It wasn’t the sort of thing where you were going to have to quit, like a salaried, amazing dream job that you already really loved in order to take this trial run. So

Rachel Hamre 21:52
yeah, I was I was in the place of I was, like, I was basically preparing to get into the field. But I was also because of my work. I wasn’t really, I didn’t feel entirely comfortable yet taking the leap of making the commitment of getting my own dog. But I was super lucky to have a great job where I was working from home, and I was able to kind of say, hey, like I’m, I’m leaving in two weeks. This is my two weeks notice. But can I come back later? And actually, I do plan to work for them again after this coming season. So yeah, I was really lucky to have a super flexible job. One that allowed me to take that opportunity.

Kayla Fratt 22:36
Yeah, yeah, it was. It worked out really well. You ended up still not? Barley, as we’ve kind of hinted out on this podcast. I don’t know if we’ve ever told his full story barley, decided to try to curb stomp abroad recluse and got bitten on the foot relatively early in the field season. Right.

Rachel Hamre 22:53
It was relatively early. Yeah, we were. We had just a regular workday, I think and everything was all good. And we got home a little bit late. But then the next day I woke up, and he was limping. And yeah, I took him to the vet. And they, we, I mean, we can only guess that it was a brown recluse, but we suspect that because of the way that the skin was necrotizing it was like, peeling off. Yeah, that was that was pretty wild.

Kayla Fratt 23:23
Well, yeah, it was, it was an interesting, and I think this is like, not necessarily for the purpose of this conversation. But for listeners, just in general. Like, I feel like how that injury progressed was also a really good reminder of like, knowing your dog, trusting your dog, trusting your instincts. And because barley, he was limping. And you know, initially, we were kind of like, maybe he’s just got a bruised foot, the vet didn’t really find anything. At first, it took several days for it to become apparent that something was really wrong. And he didn’t just like have a sore foot or like a bruised paw pad or something. And you and I were in pretty close contact, kind of going back and forth about like, do we just put a booty on it and let him go to work? And, you know, we were kind of like, actually, he’s a sort of dog where if he’s limping, he will work for us. But there’s something going on. That’s probably worth stopping work. And I’m really glad we did, because it really did turn out to be a pretty significant injury.

Rachel Hamre 24:17
Yeah, yeah. Turn later on. The vet said something about like, realizing that that was pretty serious, but even they didn’t realize how serious it could have been at the start. Yeah, that was scary. Yeah. He started limping. And he had had that kind of chronic limp but it was in his other leg and so at first I thought like, Oh, he’s been compensating and now this other leg is injured. So I thought it was muscular at first. Yeah,

Kayla Fratt 24:46
well, and I totally forgot about that. Because he did. He had he had a kind of an alias. So as strain that was resulting in some like, on again, off again, limping. He had some physical therapy that like I handed all that off to Rachel and she knew that that was a factor for him and That wind farm work was still acceptable. But he had that going on. So then when he showed up limping on the other side, it totally makes sense to kind of be like, okay, yeah, maybe compensation.

Rachel Hamre 25:10
Yeah. Yeah, we were doing he was getting what, like lasers. I became really great friends with the vet. They loved barley. It was a lot of fun.

Kayla Fratt 25:19
Yeah, there was like laser therapy who was walking backwards. He got stretched like, yeah, he was really getting getting the royal treatment. Oh, yeah.

Kayla Fratt 25:30
Listen, you and your dog are already canine conservationists by listening to the show. So go ahead and show it off. Join the club, check out our brand new merch store, which is located at Canine conservationists.org/shop. It’s stocked with stickers and magnets and bags and shirts, we’re adding new designs all the time. If you’re an artist wanting to collaborate, just we split profits and are eager to hear from us reach out at Canine conservationist@gmail.com. We also offer all of our webinars on demand through our store so you can check out our puppy raising webinar alerts and changes of behavior, introducing a target odor as well as seeking sourcing and alerting. We’re also planning to add new webinars to this all the time. So if you’ve got a request for a webinar, or you’re a practitioner, hoping to contribute a webinar, again, we’re going to split our profits with you and you can reach out to us at Kanaan conservationist@gmail.com Let’s keep the learning going.

Rachel Hamre 26:26
Yeah, so then we decided that barley wasn’t going to work anymore. And so I ended up borrowing and as Don Casey I got a lot of experience working with dogs. She was super fun. Totally different, like working style and everything. Yeah, it was. Yeah, very disappointing. For barley to not be able to finish his season I would bring him in the car with us and he would sit in look out the window very sad that he wasn’t allowed to work. I’d let him out of the car to take a potty break. And he I had to have to put him on a leash so that he wouldn’t go off and try to work. Um, yeah, poor barley. But he’s all good now.

Kayla Fratt 27:11
Yeah, yeah. And that injury I mean, it really it was it was I think, I don’t know which one of us it was more stressful for like me not being able to be there with barley and you being like, in charge of someone else’s talking to having this happen. But they ended up like drawing lines to show where the redness was, he had like his he had like a whole like, boneless like chicken chicken thigh look going because he was shaved. And he lost quite a bit of skin. Like it was

Rachel Hamre 27:38
yeah, the skin on the butt like that center. Popat I’m sure there’s a name for it. That like main big center, pop had the whole skin slowly sloughed off and had to like kind of scab and heal back over into a regular pop ad. Yeah.

Kayla Fratt 27:59
Yeah. Gosh. So anyway, so that was Rachel’s first season.

Rachel Hamre 28:03
Oh, yeah. And actually, it was funny. The vet even the head also made a comment about like, while that foot injury was like the best thing to happen to his elbow. So ask it’s totally, totally fixed. Everything else.

Kayla Fratt 28:16
Yeah, he hasn’t limped since he’s still he’s still look stiff sometimes. But he is eight and a half. And he’s a he’s a live fast die young sort of guy like he is not easy on his body. So it’s not surprising that he sometimes does look a little stiff in the morning still, and we’re, we’re working on probably in the next year or two, we’re going to be starting to transition him to more of like, old man maintenance, physical training. I’m really hoping to start getting him into some acupuncture and physical therapy and all that. But that’s going to be a whole other podcast that we’re going to need to do about helping older dogs ease into retirement and also helping extend their working life when I don’t think barley needs to be retired yet. And he certainly doesn’t want to be retired yet. But how are we going to manage moving him towards that? And hopefully continuing to have him work for several more years but okay, so you and I, we met back up in October, you handed barley back to me after your first season. And then you really started kind of looking for your own dog, right?

Rachel Hamre 29:14
Yeah, pretty quickly. Pretty early on in that season. When I had barley I decided that I felt comfortable kind of diving head in, like now that I had these connections and everything. Getting my own dog and really committing to the detection dog thing. So yeah, then, pretty quickly, I found her in October. I got my border collie Sookie and yeah, pretty much immediately. I mean at first we’re just doing like searches for little hidden hot dogs or I’d throw her ball and grass and she’d go sniff it out. And

Unknown Speaker 29:57
yeah, yeah,

Kayla Fratt 29:58
yeah. And how did you do How did you find Sookie because I know like you you had a different image in mind for what you wanted for a dog? And what were some of the like screening things that you were doing as you were looking for Sookie knowing, you know, unlike me with barley, but kind of also like with with barley I didn’t know I wanted to get into detection doc work with niffler I knew but I was getting a puppy. So what were some of the things that you were looking for? And how did you kind of go about that search?

Rachel Hamre 30:25
Yeah, one thing that was really important to me was that I get a dog that if sent, if the detection stuff didn’t work out with the dog or if I changed careers or whatever, that I would have a dog that I enjoyed as a pet and that fit into my life nicely. Which is pretty funny because I ended up well okay in my in my spreadsheet of things that I wanted and didn’t want. I really wanted a red or blue healer I was kind of leaning more towards red healers just for I think they’re pretty. I sled X matter. Yeah. The at least the red healer side of things. And yeah, other I mean personality wise, I love healers. And so I was yeah, it was very set on a healer, preferentially read healer. I have written down specifically that I did not want a black and white dog. And the one issue that I really did not want to deal with was anything Dog Dog related. I really wanted a dog who was great with other dogs. And I would have been fine with a dog who, you know, had bitten a kid or any like, anything like that. I was like, Yeah, I could, I could be a great home for that. I just really wanted a dog dog friendly dog. So I was kind of looking around. I was looking on Petfinder, I was sending lots of emails, I was talking to a lot of people about a lot of different dogs and I at a nearby shelter, not the nearest one, but one that’s maybe like an hour away. There were three dogs that I was like, Well, I don’t think any of these dogs are quite the right dog. But it’s only an hour drive. And it’s worth going to look at these three dogs. So I drove to look at them. And Sookie was actually not one of those three dogs. But I got there. And so I met four dogs, including Sookie and none of those others I was right. None of the other three were exactly what I wanted. But they showed me Sookie and another of the things that I was really looking for was a dog who was super into playing with toys, as a lot of people look for in detection dogs. And so they brought her out with a tennis ball and I’d throw the ball and she would lie down and just stare at it. And they said that she had like kind of started to learn how to play fetch. But mostly she’d just lie down and stare at the ball like she wanted to hurt it. And I found all I really knew about her was that she had been born on a nearby farm. So I assume there was some livestock there. I really don’t know. But I brought her home. And there were some, it was mostly things about her temperament that I really liked. Like I ended up having a bunch of people over not too long after I brought her home. And she did great with having a bunch of people coming in and out of the house. When I took her places she was really focused on me a lot of like very basic things that you could work on with a new dog but I just felt like I had kind of a head start there with her like some some things that she just already kind of had, that I wouldn’t have to try to work through. And so I did kind of a trial period of I think like a week or something like that. And so I decided to adopt her. And so I drove back out to the shelter and filled out the rest of our paperwork camped and then the next day, we were going on kind of an adoption celebration hike. And as my partner and I were standing there like cooking some breakfast and just hanging out with the dogs before we went up the trail. Somebody with his two dogs went running up the trail and she followed them and at first I thought she was going to come right back because that’s usually what she did. But she kind of just kept going with them so eventually I I had to run up the trail about a mile to catch up with so anyways, Sookie did her adoption celebration hike without me but that’s okay. We both had a great time.

Kayla Fratt 34:43
Oh, Sookie I forgot about that. Yeah, yeah.

Rachel Hamre 34:47
Oh, yeah. So I really wanted a dog who was good with other dogs. She ended up having some issues. There we are. We’ve made a lot of progress on that. And fluoxetine seems To be helping a lot. It’s only been a couple of weeks, but I think it’s I think having some medication on board has helped a lot with her grumpiness. torna.

Kayla Fratt 35:10
Yeah, thank God for meds. And yeah, and her issues with other dogs have broadly been pretty specifically like inside of your house. Yeah. Right.

Rachel Hamre 35:18
Yeah, it’s pretty specific dogs inside our house. I’m so glad we haven’t had any issues with anyone outside the house because we like to do a lot of, you know, off leash trail running and biking and stuff like that. So that would be a big issue. But yeah, it’s mostly been specific dogs inside the house that I can’t always tell which duck it’s gonna be. She picks favorites and less favorites.

Kayla Fratt 35:43
Yeah, she does kind of seem to develop these like, like Vendetta is a strong word. But it’s not.

Rachel Hamre 35:55
She did not like my mom’s dog. And I when I went to visit my mom, I would keep Sookie in the basement and keep my mom’s dog in the upstairs. And if Sookie came up and like even heard the other dog’s toenails, she would, like, just, I’ve never seen murder in her eyes. Other than that, she would try to hunt this other dog down. Yeah, super interesting.

Kayla Fratt 36:18
Yeah. But she does get along really well with your partner’s dog at this point. Yeah. But you did have to work through we

Rachel Hamre 36:23
there were a couple of weeks where yeah, they couldn’t be in the same space. And yeah, so we had to work through. Work through that. And I’m so glad it worked.

Kayla Fratt 36:33
Yeah, that would be gosh, yeah, the partner dog conflicts are like back when I did a lot of behavior consulting, that was always the worst because it was like, they’re like, Yeah, we want to move in together. We’ve signed the lease that starts in a month. And it turns out our dogs hate each other. And I’m like, okay, great. Yeah, that’s super easy. No problem. Don’t worry about it. I’ve got it.

Unknown Speaker 36:52
At rents, right? Yeah, yeah. Yeah, that’s

Kayla Fratt 36:55
really a solution. We’ll just get another house for your dog. But she’s always been good with niffler. Right? Because she so the other Rachel had my dogs the entire time. I was in Kenya. So Rachel just keeps ending up getting shoved places with barley. But um, but you were able to kind of manage it with barley and

Rachel Hamre 37:15
yeah, so Sookie never had an issue with niffler which is pretty interesting.

Kayla Fratt 37:19
Yeah, cuz he’s annoying. Yeah, he’s just a

Rachel Hamre 37:23
goofy, like niffler could totally get away with things that no other dog would be able to get away with. But Sookie has some funny. I guess it falls under resource guarding. She never touches the trash can, or even smells it or anything. But if another dog smells the trash can she enforces the rule of no trash can smelling. And so of course, she would.

Kayla Fratt 37:47
that would that would be an issue with barley as people who listened to the podcast may know. Barley is a consummate trash monster.

Rachel Hamre 37:56
Yes, so Sookie had pretty minor issues with barley, luckily. But yeah, barley just couldn’t do anything right at one point, but it was manageable. Yeah, we put up fences and did lots of treats and engage disengaging. They can be in the same space MIT. Yeah, management is great. Yeah, it worked. It was everyone was happy enough.

Kayla Fratt 38:23
Yeah, yeah, exactly. Well, yeah. And she’s lovely. And she’s gonna be starting her first field season with you crush in a couple of weeks. a month. Yeah, we

Rachel Hamre 38:31
leave very soon. Yeah. Yeah. Just a couple of weeks. I think will she’ll be working on her first? Wind Farm project?

Kayla Fratt 38:41
Ooh, yeah. Oh, gosh. Wow. Yeah. My voice is just not here. I’m so glad we had two podcasts recorded, recorded today. So okay, I think as we’re kind of wrapping up here, what are some of the things that you’re now that we’ve, we’ve got you on board with canine conservationists? None of us is making any money. We’re spending a ton of time doing stuff. What are some of the things that you’re like looking forward to growing into both as like a vision for canine conservationists and also for yourself as like, within the organization? Like, where do you want to see yourself in the organization going? What are you excited about?

Rachel Hamre 39:14
Yeah, um, I’ve started talking to a couple of professors about doing a master’s in something data related probably data science. I like the numbers and data side of things. And so I hope that that can contribute to Canine conservationist at some point. And also kind of provide some financial stability outside of our Kenyan conservationist fieldwork, so kind of, I think that will provide stability and money for myself and canine conservationists in whatever way it works out.

Kayla Fratt 39:56
Yeah, no, definitely. It’s gonna be nice to have someone with that background on the team. And yeah, is there anything? Yeah. Is there anything else that you wanted to bring off or anything I forgot to ask about. I

Rachel Hamre 40:08
can’t think of anything. Okay.

Kayla Fratt 40:11
Yeah. Well, Rachel, thanks for being on the podcast and we’re glad to have you part of canine conservationist crew. I think we’ve all the division of labor that we’ve got going between you and me and Heather is working out pretty well. But I am hoping to get both of them to come back on the show a little bit more. And yeah, just spread it out a little bit. But for everyone listening at home, thanks so much for joining us. I hope you enjoyed getting to know Rachel and Sookie and hearing a little bit about their history together. As always, we hope that you’re inspired to get outside and be a canine conservationist and whatever way suits your passions and skill set. If you want to learn more about canine conservationists, you can volunteer for us by merch, donate, join Patreon, whatever it is that you want. All of that is over at Canine conservationists.org Until next time,

Transcribed by https://otter.ai