Here at K9 Conservationists, we’re not just obsessed with training conservation detection dogs. We’re passionate about all the ways that dog lovers (and their dogs) can help protect the planet. Earth Day is about so much more than simple trash pickups or planting a few trees. Its roots lie in legislation, intersectional environmentalism, and reimagining the economic foundation of the United States.
If you’re reading this on Earth Day, keep all of that history in mind while we suggest a few small action items. We urge you to celebrate Earth Day every day and to think bigger about systemic change. In the meantime, here are a few ideas to help you and your dogs be better K9 Conservationists.
- Help pick up extra trash and dog waste at your local trailhead or walking area. If you don’t have an organized trail pickup day to attend, that’s ok! Just grab some gloves, a trash bag, and take your dog for a walk to pick up as much trash and waste as you can find. That’s our plan tonight!
- Brush up on your invasive plant identification skills – maybe even volunteer to remove some. Invasive plants can easily hitch a ride on your boots or your dog’s coat, especially in the springtime or if your dog likes romping off-trail. Remove plant matter from your dog and yourself before leaving the trail to avoid spreading seeds to a new location.
- Practice your dog’s trail manners. Dogs harassing wildlife and disturbing other recreationists is a big issue in many areas. Practice managing a long line, recalling your dog around distractions, and heavily rewarding your dog for checking in with you along the trail. More advanced hikers and trainers can work on emergency stop cues, directionals (right, left, straight, and turn back), and “get behind.” All of these skills help you and your dog be even more polite trail users.
- Consider replacing your dog’s toys and treats with eco-friendly options when the time comes. Don’t go out and buy more right now just for an eco-friendly option: more consumption isn’t the answer! But when the time comes to replace, consider companies like Marsh Dog Treats that make their treats from invasive nutria. Yum!
- Give your legislators some positive reinforcement, if you can. One of the best ways to start building a relationship with your legislators and community leaders is to reach out and thank your legislators for any work they’ve done in the past year. In the past, this tactic has led to my legislators being excited to grab lunch with me and talk about my priorities! Win!
- Ask community leaders what they’re doing for the Earth in the coming days, months, and generations. Communicate your goals and desires with your legislators and community leaders for the future.
If you found this little list helpful, please consider sharing it with your networks! We hope that everyone can get out and be a K9 Conservationist in some small way today.
We are also still fundraising for our field vehicle repairs. In March of 2021, we purchased a Sprinter Van with the goal of it being a multipurpose field vehicle and field housing. Unfortunately, it needs extensive engine repairs and we are fundraising to cover the costs! Donate to the GoFundMe you see on the sidebar of this page. This will help us get ready for our upcoming season of searching for bats on wind farms (and hopefully many more field seasons to come).