KYOKO JOHNSON – FOUNDER and K9 TRAINER/INSTRUCTOR
Kyoko has been training dogs and their people in Hawai‘i since 2008. Her love of dogs came from volunteering for various dog rescue organizations and shelters on the island. Since beginning her dog training career, she has earned various professional training and instructor certifications, including through Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers, Karen Pryor Academy, and National Association of Canine Scent Work.
Her passion for scent detection began with a pet dog named Luka (pictured left) that didn’t like normal dog activities such as fetch, swimming and playing with other dogs, but absolutely loved and gained confidence through “nose work.” Since then, Kyoko has trained numerous pet dogs and handlers in scent detection, including for competition prep.
Kyoko began her career as an ecological scent detection dog trainer and handler in 2012 through an O‘ahu wind farm’s habitat conservation program, which utilized canines to locate endangered seabird and bat fatalities to measure environmental impact. She went on to train and handle dogs for various conservation projects including: a study at Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge which measured the efficacy of utilizing detection dogs to lower avian botulism-related mortality in Koloa Maoli, an endangered Hawaiian duck; and a project that utilized detector dogs to monitor the eradication effort of invasive yellow crazy ants, a species that caused great harm to seabirds at Johnston Atoll National Wildlife Refuge. Kyoko continues to operate her private business Country Canine LLC in addition to serving as president and lead K9 trainer of Conservation Dogs of Hawai‘i.
We collaborate and receive guidance on our projects from various biologists in the Hawaiian islands. In order to successfully implement detection dogs as a survey method, it is critical to work with those who understand the biology and conservation needs of our target species. We’re grateful to all of our advisors.
Current board members include Sandra Sue, Sooz Mirikitani, Lisa Kamae and Kyoko Johnson.
Thumbnail photos 2 and 4 by Chipperton Photography