Center for Conservation Biology

Retired Conservation Canines

Meet our retired Conservation Canines.

Moja, a brown lab that is wet from rain, points his nose at a scat sample in the wild.

This page is dedicated to Moja – The first scat detection dog trained by the Center for Conservation Biology. Moja’s ground-breaking work proved the scat detection dog concept, opening a whole new noninvasive approach to conservation biology: Dogs rescued from animal shelters provide some of the most comprehensive sampling of ecosystems to date. Moja’s legacy has allowed our center to build a program that now includes many resident Conservation Canines and many more detection dogs working for other programs around the world.

Moja served on the grizzly and black bear project in Alberta, Canada and as program ambassador for many years. He appeared in numerous magazine and newspaper articles and was featured twice on Discover.Canada. Moja eventually retired, living happily as the beloved pet of our center director. Sadly, Moja died of heart failure in the summer of 2006. However, his legacy lives on.

All of the dogs in our program have been instrumental to our success. We become closely bonded to them long before their tenure is through. Upon retirement, we find them comfortable homes, usually with a former handler that appreciates their high-energy level even at retirement age. Our retired colleagues are shown below.


black and grey cattle dog, retired CK9 gator

Gator, an Australian Cattle dog, worked for Conservation Canines from 2001 – 2007. He passed up a promising career in narcotic detection work for life in the great outdoors. Gator worked on a number of studies including Jasper, Vermont, and Brazil. He retired at the age of 10 and happily lived out the rest of his days with his best buddy, Heath.


Mocha, a large mixed-breed dog, sitting outside in the sun

Mocha began working for the Conservation Canine program in 2005 after she was not offered a position with the Police Department. While her specific breed is unknown, she is thought to be a cattle dog/shepherd/doberman mix, and posses the wonderful temperaments of all three breeds! Mocha and her handler, Lindsay Madden, were one of the first canine-handler teams on the California Fisher project back in 2006. Shortly after returning from her second Fisher project season, Mocha retired from CK9s in early 2008 and now lives with her original handler, Lindsay and Lindsay’s Husband, Jacob. Mocha currently spends hours in front of a warm fireplace and has countless toys to choose from on a daily basis. Mocha’s instantaneous bond and working relationship with her handler inspired Lindsay to pursue her current work as a PhD Student at Washington State University. Lindsay is researching the mutual benefits of human-animal interactions specifically between troubled youth and shelter dogs. ~Lindsay


Ally, a chocolate Labrador mix, sitting outside in the sun and looking upwards

Ally is a chocolate Labrador mix and worked for Conservation Canines from 2005-2008. She came to us from the Howling Ridge Animal Rescue in Eastern WA. Ally began her career in Alberta, Canada. From there, Ally joined our team in the Brazillian Cerrado and then returned to Alberta in 2007. She retired at the age of 9 and is now living in Montana with her handler and good friend, Julie.


Frehley, a border collie, wears a safety vest and lays down attentively in the snow

Frehley came to our program from the Seattle Animal Shelter in 2005. When he arrived, he was emaciated and neurotic – bringing with him a nervous tic where he would chase his paws. The only thing that would get his attention away was playing with his favorite toy. Slowly, he gained more confidence and “normalcy” through working. Frehley started out in our matching program where he would match scats to the individual within a population. After showing a great aptitude for this, he was sent to the Sierra Nevada mountain range in California to search for fisher scats. He ended up being one of our main fisher scat-finding dogs and surveyed for them in many locations in both California and Oregon for parts of 7 years. Frehley was also one of our dogs searching for the elusive Jemez Mountain Salamander in New Mexico. In addition, Frehley was the hit of his handler’s wedding as he brought the ring down the aisle. Frehley retired from the Conservation Canines in the fall of 2013 and is currently living in Ohio with his former handler (and wife) and his best buddy Steven. He spends his days sleeping on the couch and playing with his frisbee or anything else you can pick up.~ Bud


Gabby, a pitbull mix, sitting outside and looking upwards

Gabby came to Conservation Canines in 2009. She worked hard during her training sessions and quickly won over all of the handlers with her sweet personality and affectionate nature. While she did not succeed as a CK9, Gabby underwent training as a narcotics dog with Department of Corrections. There she thrived and was soon placed in western Washington as a permanent member of a K9 team! We are thrilled that she is happy and has found such a great place to work.


Isis, a lab, sits in the grass outside and holds an "Orca Survey" booklet in her mouth

Isis was adopted by Dave in the early Fall of 2006. During summer months, Isis has become the “official” dog of the Center for Whale Research (CWR) on San Juan Island where she provides much needed dog fixes for the staff. While she has gone out on the boat with the CWR to see orcas, she usually just waits patiently on “her” sofa at CWR to greet the staff when they get home. Isis is quite the charmer and she often gets a “Oh, you’re cute!” when people first meet her. She’s so sweet she even wags her tail in her sleep! At home, she lives like a queen and her stuffed animals cover the floor. We enjoy long walks all over San Juan Island when the weather and whales permit. Isis’s favorite thing to do in the evenings is to snuggle with her people on the couch. Photo credit Traci Walter. ~Dave

Shrek and Lulu

Shrek, a chocolate lab mix, and Lulu, an Australian shepherd, sit side-by-side on a rocky ledge with a sunny mountain and lake in the background

Shrek is a Chocolate Labrador-Retriever mix and worked on wolf, caribou, moose, and spotted owl projects. Lulu is an Australian Shepherd and worked on Sierra Nevada red fox and spotted owl projects. They both came to the program in the spring of 2008 and retired to live with their handler, Jodi. Shrek and Lulu have a brotherly-sisterly love-hate relationship. They like to steal each other’s toys and affection but, when it comes down to it, they prefer play time with one another over any other dog. When they aren’t backpacking in the Sierra Nevadas (Shrek likes to carry their food in his doggie-pack), they like to hang at home. They spend their time swimming in the pond, picking (and eating!) apples and berries, and helping mom in the garden. ~Jodi


Sheila/Sheba, a border collie and cattle dog mix, wears a dog hiking pack with lays down on a rocky path

Sheila (now Sheba) is a border collie/cattle dog mix who retired to Eugene in 2008. While she was quite the rascal at first, with a lot of love, patience and the right training collar she quickly formed a bond with her human companion that will last several lifetimes. Sheba’s favorite activities include cross-country skiing (especially when she gets to break trail), muddy trail runs, chasing the ball, and cleaning out peanut butter jars. She is also one of the best companions for an afternoon nap! She is looking forward to the day she can move closer to her cousin, retired CK9 Mason. ~Stacy

Sadie May

black dog running with yellow ball in mouth

Sadie May is a black lab pointer mix who retired to San Juan Island in 2013. She had a long career with Conservation Canines and worked all over the world. Some of her adventures include Mexico for jaguars, Cambodia for tigers, Alberta for caribou and wolves and the White Mountains of Arizona for the Mexican grey wolves. She has a love for toys that has yet to be rivaled by any other Conservation Canine. Her favorite pastime when she’s not chasing a ball? Swimming! She starts to tremble at the slightest hint of water. When she’s not playing, she’ll spend hours sunbathing in the backyard. ~ Liz


Sasha, a husky mix, sitting side-by-side with Olive, a pug, in a forest clearing

Sasha is a Husky mix who worked on the bear project in Montana in 2009. She came to Conservation Canines from WAIF Animal Shelter on Whidbey Island in 2008. Sasha now lives in downtown Portland, Maine with her best friend Olive the Pug! She loves to chase and be chased—no other dogs can keep up with her pace and tricky jumping maneuvers! She is super affectionate, eager to please, and surprisingly mellow around the house. Her favorite things to do are: swim, play ball, chase frogs around the pond, run as fast as she can in deep snow, and go to the beach. ~Amanda


Orion, a lab, lays in wild grass and wears a reflective safety vest

Orion travelled the through South America and across the United States seeking endangered species scat for Conservation Canines. Like all the dogs with CK9, he was chosen from a shelter because he was smart and totally loved playing with a tennis ball. Due to his relentless search for scat and his exuberance during his playtime with the ball, he was often the dog of choice to train new dog handlers for CK9s. For if you could handle Orion, you could handle any of their dogs! Orion was retired several years ago and went to live out his final days with his new owner in Central Oregon. He never gave up his love of racing after a tennis ball or scampering through the woods! He will be remembered for many reasons but also because he taught me, that miracles do happen and love does conquer all. He will be sorely missed! ~Christine


yellow dog with flowering tree

    Waylon was loved by many of our handlers at Conservation Canines. He worked his way into all of our hearts and truly became part of our family. Waylon worked on many studies including sharp-taild snakes and killer whales in the San Juan Islands to the oil sands of Alberta. We will miss his goofy face. ~ All CK9 handlers


CK9 Tucker, black labrador leaning over the bow of a boat

Our beloved Tucker, most published pup as the number one sniffer for Orca scat in the Salish Sea, retired this year, 2017. He never let his fear of the water hold him back. We wish him all the chew toys he could want in retirement, he’s earned them! See Tucker in action here



Red cattle dog Ck9 Alli

This little lady joined us way back in 2005. Alli’s spunk and vivacity quickly won her a spot in head handler Heath’s heart. Since becoming a part of the pack, Alli has gone on numerous studies tracking a dozen different species. While her work has taken her all over the country, she is most specialized in species of the PNW. At 13 years old, Alli is settling in to retired life at the side of her best friend. She still loves to play ball, and will affectionately nip on the neck of anyone who sits down and pets her.



black labrador CK9 Sampson

Sampson first joined Conservation Canines in 2008 from the Seattle Humane Society. An adorable black lab mix, people were shocked that he didn’t have a home yet. Unfortunately, he didn’t care at all about a potential new home and would much rather stare down the basket of balls and toys that was in the greeting room at the shelter. Sampson is trained on over 30 species of animals, some plants, and environmental toxins.  His super sniffer has been employed to find garlic mustard, an invasive species of plant, and to find PCB toxins in Seattle. Now-a-days, you’re most likely to find Sampson alongside his pals, Julianne and CK9 Casey, in the classroom teaching kids about wildlife research, scatology, and dogs with jobs.



black, white and grey cattle dog CK9 MaxIn 2007, Max joined the CK9 pack from Everett Animal Shelter. At two years old, he was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and ready for adventure. Most well-known for his work on the spotted owl study finding owl pellets, Max has also been to Cambodia and Alberta among many other locations. He’s traveled by bush plane, by four wheeler, by boat. Max is slowly adapting to his new role as retiree. While he does love to spend time on the couch, he’s never one to pass up a hike or swim!