Home' Greymouth Star : January 3rd 2015 Contents Greymouth Star
8 - Saturday, January 3, 2015
oki is Paul van
Klink’s first dog,
which makes its
pup to skilled
duck) dog all the more remarkable.
The five-year-old border collie-
springer spaniel cross is just out of the
bush, on a mission to sniff out whio.
Hoki can also help find kea, which
nest on the ground, like whio.
“Hoki is my first dog,” Paul, a
contractor, says. “ There’s been a lot of
trial and error. I never had dogs when
I was growing up. ”
But while he was working in
Hokitika his Department of
Conser vation friend had one. He
looked at a litter, went away still
undecided, but then he got a call —
the pup was ready to pick up. And that
Paul did not read many books about
raising and training dogs, but he
talked to other people. He describes
Hoki as clever, loyal - and headstrong.
“ When I give commands and she’s
tired, she just looks at me!”
Fully certified, Hoki always works
muzzled, which is standard. Paul will
head into the wind, so the scent comes
Whio are most active in the morning
and evening, and during the day can
be found under log jams, boulders and
On some days, Hoki will find up to
50% more birds.
“ When I work upriver and the
wind’s coming down, she will cover
the rocks so much faster than me. I
need to control her with my whistle,
the stop whistle is telling her to wait
for me to catch up.”
He has never used an electric collar,
preferring pats and praise, and an
occasional food treat.
Very much a working dog, Hoki
sleeps outside in a kennel. When not
working in the bush — it does about
30daysayear — itgetsacoupleof
walks a day.
Hoki comes from a good bloodline
a dog that can find lizards is its
mother, and one grandfather was a
If he did it all again, Paul says he
would do things a bit differently.
“But it ’s certainly rewarding. When
you find a blue duck it’s really good.
She’s pretty amazing.”
At Franz Josef Glacier, five-and-
a-half-year-old Rein is also a loyal
friend. The Hungarian vizsla is a kiwi
dog, most often found working in the
forests around Okarito.
Owner Iain Graham was working
with the kiwi recovery team when he
Until then, they had been bringing
in other dogs from around the
country to help track kiwi in the thick
rimu forests between Okarito and
“I put my hand up,” Iain says.
Although his family had dogs, they
were not farm dogs. He had always
been keen on vizslas and knew of a
man in Hamilton who also worked
for DOC had a litter. In came little
Now, more than five years later, Rein
can point (by raising its front leg),
track and retrieve. Other times, it
Iain focused on kiwi. But other dogs
indicate goats, stoats, possums and
rats. They can be used to check that
boats going to predator-free islands do
not have any stowaways.
Other dogs find endangered species
kiwi, blue duck and even lizards.
The lizard dog had to be taught to
sniff up, into the bushes where the
lizards live and ignore the instinct to
sniff down on the ground.
At first, Iain did not do any active
training. Instead it was sit and stay —
the basics. Rewards came later.
He did a lot of reading, and there is a
network of dog owners he could draw
on for help.
“I wanted her to work for me, not a
And Rein was perfect, keen
to please its owner. After basic
obedience training, Iain and dog had
to go through a preliminary exam to
check they were on track. They were
successful, and it was time to head into
Vizslas are a natural hunting breed,
so Rein wanted to hunt. Iain focused
that energy for hunting into a desire
to find kiwi.
“The first couple of months she
tagged along,” he says.
Rein was — and still is —
muzzled whenever in the bush.
He also used kiwi feathers and a
dead kiwi to help train Rein’s scent.
Others would hide them, and then
Iain and Rein would search them out.
It all just slowly happened.
Gradually, the dog figured out what
they were looking for.
He delayed the next test as Rein
was not consistent enough, until it
was ready. By 18 months it was fully
Ever loyal, Rein works within 50m
The birds are tracked by transmitters,
but the dog makes finding them a lot
It also finds birds that have lost their
transmitter. And when a bird declines
to remain in one place, and runs, Rein
really is worth its weight in gold.
“A lot of time is saved,” Iain says,
And the more they are together, the
harder the dog works.
Rein needs lots of exercise so Iain
will often go mountainbiking with
dog in tow. But given an open space
to play, Rein would rather wait at the
gate for him to get home.
This dog sleeps in the house, in front
of the fire. It is short-haired, Iain
explains, and feels the cold, so much
so that sometimes it works wearing a
Rein may have a job, but it is also
very much a loved pet.
Deep in the West Coast bush, two expertly trained species dogs, well muzzled, are tracking
down critically endangered kiwi and blue ducks for the Department of Conservation. Fit, loyal
and sometimes with a bit of attitude — Rein and Hoki were trained by novice owners.
LAURA MILLS asked, how did they do it?
Iain Graham and kiwi dog Rein at work in the Okarito bush.
Rein finds a kiwi.
PICTURES: Department of Conser vation
Paul van Klink’s whio dog, Hoki.
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