Dogs can be a threat to New Zealand wildlife and can cause a lot of harm to our native bird species, especially the kiwi, but there are some that are helping to save them.
Horowhenua woman Joanna Sim has two dogs, Rua and Maddi, that use their sense of smell to find and protect endangered native birds like pateke, North Island brown kiwi, penguins and a variety of seabirds including grey-faced petrels.
Sim trained the pair to smell out birds by stuffing feathers into socks and hiding them deep in her garden, rewarding the dogs for locating them but not touching the feathers.
They now know not to touch the birds they track down, but to creep up, stop and point to the location of the burrow with their nose.
Sim said her obedient dogs are work dogs but warn all dogs can be corrupted by people inadvertently rewarding them for being disobedient, such as petting them when they are excited when they should be calm.
The dogs are certified by DOC to work in threatened species and are part of the National Conservation Dogs Program.
She first began her career working for DoC, with Maddi by her side, but branched off to become a contractor.
Maddi is now retired, so Rua and Sim do most of the work tracking burrowing seabirds in steep hilly country or kiwi deep in the bush. In May the duo travelled to Taranaki to help the conservation effort to protect what's left of wild kiwi there.
Working in partnership with Kiwi for Kiwi and its Operation Nest Egg, Rua would locate the adult males to be fitted with a transmitter.
That transmitter would then alert Kiwi for Kiwi when the males were nesting.
Eggs and chicks are then removed from their burrows and kept in captivity until they are big enough to fend for themselves against stoats.
Rua and Sim were vital to helping Operation Nest Egg give New Zealand's precious icon a head start.
She also worked on the Kapiti expressway with the dogs in 2014 looking for grey duck.
DoC's website states that well trained dog-handler teams have successfully been used for conservation for more than 40 years and New Zealand was the first country to use dogs to benefit conservation as far back as the 1890s.
¦You can follow Rua and Sim's journey on their Facebook page DabChicknz