PHILLIP Island Nature Parks is proud to acknowledge the well-deserved retirement of one of its beloved conservation detection dogs, Lady, after 10 years of service of fox detection.

Lady has worked as a valuable member of two successful fox eradication programs in Tasmania and on Phillip Island, according to handler Craig Bester, a senior vertebrate pest officer/dog trainer and handler for Phillip Island Nature Parks.

Lady will enjoy a well-earned rest after retiring from her duties.

“She has travelled just over 18,000km whilst searching for foxes in these programs and contributed a lot to the teams in saving time with her incredible detection skills.”

Craig collected Lady from her birthplace in Rockhampton and originally took her back to Tasmania to commence her training. She started work at nine weeks old and undertook all aspects of tracking work in her training to be a detection dog. When the Tasmania program discontinued, Craig happily brought her into the team of conservation dogs at Phillip Island Nature Parks where he was then working.

Lady is a German Wirehaired Pointer with a quiet temperament and steady determination which led to her thorough approach to her work of detecting foxes in natural environments to assist in conservation outcomes.

“She ‘tells’ everything by ground or air, scenting target odour and then tracking it to the source and then goes on point to indicate to me where there is an animal or sign of one,” Craig said.

“She really concentrated on her work and was easy to control.”

The pair have been together nearly every day of her working life. Lady even saved Craig from potentially being bitten by a Tiger Snake by pointing it out to him. Snake aversion is an important part of a conservation dog’s training – ensuring safety of both the dog and handler when working.

Nine years is about the average time for a working dog and with Lady almost 11, Craig made the difficult decision to retire her to a loving home on Phillip Island where she will spend her twilight years.

“Lady will be greatly missed, but deserves a well-earned rest from her work duties.”

The Nature Parks’ conservation dog team will continue to achieve conservation outcomes for Phillip Island and Victoria with fox detection team Sam and Jazz along with Marbee and Milly finalising their training to become feral cat detection dogs.