Life-giv­ing ca­nines

Three scam­per­ing dogs in Chile are help­ing re­store burnt forests.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Pets -

FOR­EST fires in Chile rav­aged vast swathes of land this year, leav­ing patches once thick with sturdy old trees, re­duced to burnt land­scapes. Now, three plucky dogs are help­ing re­plant it all.

The blazes black­ened the El Maule re­gion of cen­tral Chile as part of a se­ries of fires that claimed 11 lives and charred a to­tal of 457,000 hectares.

But since March, three Bor­der Col­lies have been scam­per­ing through the charred re­mains with spe­cial satchels that spread seeds as they run to sow seedlings, grass and flow­ers.

A ma­jor goal is for an­i­mals that fled the fires to re­turn.

“The main thing is for the fauna to be able to live,” said Fran­cisca Tor­res, the owner of the three dogs tasked with this big mis­sion.

The fe­male dogs are named Das, Olivia, and Sum­mer.

They jump out of Tor­res’ truck and run into the for­est they are charged with bring­ing back to life by spread­ing seeds from the satchels, hap­pily obliv­i­ous to the ben­e­fit they are pro­vid­ing.

When the job is fin­ished, they get treats from Tor­res, 32, who also trains dogs to work with peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties. Then she fills their satchels up with more seeds and sends them out again.

Tor­res, who runs an en­vi­ron­men­tal NGO, says these dogs – bred to herd sheep – are smart, vi­brant and fast and there­fore, ideal for the job.

In any case, they are bet­ter than hu­mans, she said.

The dogs can cover a range of 30 km in a day and sow up to 10 kg of seeds, whereas a per­son could only do three km in a day.

This work has been un­der way for four months now in 15 forests of the El Maule re­gion. In some of them, grass is back and seedlings, vines and mush­rooms have pushed through the black­ened earth, thanks to the mois­ture that comes with the win­ter of the south­ern hemi­sphere.

“We have seen some fields that are now to­tally green, thanks to the work of Sum­mer, Olivia and Das,” said Tor­res. She pays for this work, largely out of her own pocket, but with some do­na­tions, too.

Tor­res ex­pressed hope that this sum­mer, the seeds will have ger­mi­nated and some an­i­mals like foxes, hares and lizards, will have re­turned to the for­est. — AFP

A trained bor­der col­lie, runs through a for­est dev­as­tated by mas­sive fire, while sow­ing tree seeds that fall to the ground from their spe­cial back­packs. — Photos: AFP Tor­res (left), dog trainer and mem­ber of an­i­mal ac­tivism group Pe­wos, and her sis­ter Con­stanza, pre­pare their trained bor­der col­lies for tree sow in Talca.

Bor­der col­lies (from left) Olivia, Das and Sum­mer, pic­tured with their spe­cial back­packs full of seeds, take a breather from their hard work.

Aerial view of a for­est area con­sumed by a mas­sive fire and now be­ing sowed by dogs.

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