What are Finder-Keeper Teams?
Teamwork is essential to Conservation Dogs Collective: we believe our human employees and co-woofers alike are equals! Our Finder-Keeper teams work together on assigned projects when on the job and live together as a family outside of conservation work.
Finders: The Dogs
Finder is a term we use to describe the “job” of our conservation dogs without implying that the dogs themselves view scent-detection as work. The word "Finder" speaks to the scientific goal of conservation work while reflecting how we hope our dogs feel about sniffing out invasives and endangered species. Being a Canine Finder doesn’t feel like work, but rather an incredibly fun day in the life of a dog as they find all sorts of animal, plant and insect scents alongside their Keeper teammate. Although fairly synonymous with “detector” as the phrase scent-detection implies, we chose the word Finder as a way to emphasize the equality that dogs have with their humans.
Finder Bronty with his Keeper Heather
Keepers: The Humans
The term Keeper highlights the multifaceted responsibility our humans have for their canine counterparts. Our Canine Keepers do so much more than train and work with dogs; each one is a caretaker and companion to their Finder, just as any pet guardian would be. Keepers work with their Finders in the field and live with them as family, always with the greatest interest of the Finder's wellbeing in mind. We think the word Keeper also reinforces the quality of teamwork in our conservation work. After all, a Keeper cannot be successful without the snifferrific skills of the Finder whom they keep so well!
Positive Reinforcement Training
All training at Conservation Dogs Collective is reward-based. We use positive reinforcement to facilitate a learning process that’s not only effective for training, but fun for the Finders. Positive reinforcement means that Finders are taught skills with items that the Finder finds rewarding like treats, toys, and games. It’s also up to the Keeper to learn the particular ways their Finder communicates through body language, especially as the Finder learns a new target odor during fieldwork scenarios.
Why Does Verbiage Matter?
People may already know terms like handler, trainer and working dog used in the context of searching for drugs, missing people, diseases, and other situations that use scent-detection. But since dog scent-detection used in conservation work is a new concept for many, we strive to convey the core of our organization’s values within the language we use. We want our verbiage to indicate that the emotional and physical welfare of our Finders are always front-and-center. Our Finder-Keeper teams love dogs, love nature, and love to have a good time, together!
The dog-human bond is an inescapable connection, even in the context of serious and scientific research. Plus, we love being able to connect with any audience, from other working-dog professions to the millions of pet owners around the world. In a nutshell, we consider all of the Conservation Dogs Collective staff to be a Keeper because we keep the professional Finders and office dogs in the utmost of care everywhere we go —in the field, in our homes, and in our hearts.