Taylor, the four-year-old English Springer Spaniel, is not your average house pet.
She has the vital job of tracking injured koalas after bushfires swept across the Hastings and Mid-North Coast.
The smart-sniffing canine has been working with the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital and NSW Rural Fire Service guided by Port Macquarie detection dog trainer Ryan Tate.
The pair have so far found at least eight koalas in areas burnt by bushfires in the Hastings.
English Springer Spaniels like Taylor take their instincts from being traditionally used as a gun dog for flushing out and retrieving game animals.
Port Macquarie detection dog trainer Ryan Tate said the scenting process is quite fun for Taylor and she is highly motivated.
"In optimal conditions she'd be able to smell a koala at about 125 metres away and then she tries to get as close as possible. She works in a cone-like shape by weaving in a zig-zag fashion until she gets to the closest source," he said.
"She will lay down when she has found the scat (wild animal droppings) or the animal.
"In certain areas like the fringes of the fires, it is really really difficult to spot koalas. They don't want to be spotted and if they are injured they will tuck up into a ball.
"The big advantage in this kind of situation is that the dog can cover a huge area and tell us that there is no koalas there. I can then tell other crews that their energy is better spent elsewhere.
"This is the easiest type of tracking for a dog to do because the environment smells uniform (like ash) and there's only one type of animal left in the habitat."
Taylor is decked out in special protective gear on the job including her own work vest, radio and her favourite reward treat, a tennis ball.
"The dog is trained from day one that if it uses its nose to identify specific things it will get all the treats, all the tennis balls and all the praise in the world," he said.
"We want them to be quite fearless, to work hard but the two main things they must not do are not to chase wildlife and not to run off."
Koala detection dogs are trained to prioritise fresh droppings, fur and urine during a 30 to 45 minute shift. Taylor is one of five dogs able to track koalas, quolls, feral cats and rabbits, said Mr Tate.
"This is my full time professional job but at the moment I'm on leave so it's absolutely voluntary for me," said Mr Tate.
"I'm doing it for free because it's my own backyard and home town. I feel a strong obligation to do what I can."
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