Allison Woods Outdoor Learning Center, Inc.

Allison's Woods Drive, Statesville, NC


  Reconnecting Children with Nature

Allison Woods Outdoor Learning Center

Reconnecting Children With Nature!

Turtle Dogs you ask? What is a Turtle Dog? A very unique story, indeed......


A "one-of-a-kind" nationally recognized, highly sought after

program that uses specially trained dogs to aid in research,

field studies, and educational programs concerning turtles.


The dogs have been featured on Animal Planet,

Dogs 101, PBS, UNC-TV, along with

various magazine and newspaper articles.


Students interested in field research?

Want the Turtle Dogs to visit your school or organization?

Does your school want to have a field trip at Allison Woods OLC?


Call or email us today!


How the Turtle Dogs began....

Fourteen years ago, a retired biology teach was in the forest with his dogs and they noticed that he was picking up box turtles admiring them. Evidently the dogs took heed...and his dog Buster brought him a turtle. He praised the dog and returned the turtle back into the woods, but the dog soon returned with another and another. In John's words, "another dog wired up a little differently rewrote the history of turtle research in America." Before the Turtle Dogs, researchers found it nearly impossible to obtain a solid read on turtle population numbers - particularly in the forest. Our dogs continue the line of the original Turtle Dogs...Buster and Sparky...and carry the same affection for finding turtles. We breed our dogs and train them specifically to locate turtles of all types. Although John likes to travel the States working with government agencies and colleges on research and relocating ornate and painted turtles which are endangered, we use ours to teach children about conservation and preservation.

Several years ago, the dogs were brought to our site to conduct a program in conjunction with UNC Greensboro's HERPS Project. The dogs sniffed out the turtles, brought them to us as the researchers weighed, marked and logged data on each turtle located and then they were released back to the spot where they were found.

During their visit here, John (and his pack) fell in love with the many untouched areas and felt they were ideal for box turtle educational research. After several months of discussion, it was decided that he would continue with research and study across the United States with part of his "A" and "B" team dogs and that the Allison Woods Outdoor Learning Center would pick up the educational aspect along with some of the overflow research studies with the remaining "A" and "B" team dogs, and of course the puppies...whose team is yet to be determined! However, we all have our suspicions what they will be!

Needless to say...we were thrilled! So now we have the new generation in the Turtle Dog line. Possum, Kizzie, Lazarus & Scamper (Laz and Scamp are now on the road with John and his team traveling the United States). Veteran dogs, Snapper and Watcher helped us to train the puppies and are available with the trainers for educational programs and research projects.

On a typical day, they may find as many as 25 turtles. By contrast, students with some projects may do well to only locate all summer.