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Closer Look: The Dog That Sniffs Scat for Science

Most of the time we hear about expeditions through emails and phone calls. But when explorers come through Washington D.C., they stop by NG Headquarters and give us a first hand update on their work. The Closer Look videos bring that insider’s view to you.

Explorer and biologist Karen DeMatteo has a difficult job—searching for elusive and endangered species of wild cats and dogs. Her best tool? An obsessive dog with a fantastic nose. DeMatteo’s Chesapeake lab, Train, has a deep fixation for chasing his tennis ball, and she has harnessed that obsessive energy for a scientific purpose—sniffing out five species of animal scat in the forests of Misiones, Argentina, a job that could take a human as many as seven years. Finding the scat helps her know how the animals, like the very rare bush dog (seen below), use their habitat and therefore how to protect them.

Watch Karen describe her work with Train in the video above and for more details check out our early blog post: Weird & Wild: Train the Scat-Sniffing Dog.

A shy bush dog peeks out from its enclosure. Photo: Karen DeMatteo

Learn More:

Karen DeMatteo on National Geographic Weekend

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