Holly may be New Zealand’s only conservation frog dog but she has many strings to her bow!

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Holly is a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever specialising in sniffing out New Zealand native frogs. She started her frog detection training in 2019 and is only one of a few dogs in the entire world to learn how to find frogs by scent! The other frog dogs work overseas as a part of the Amphibian Research K9 team in the United States and at Zoos Victoria in Melbourne.

After going on a trip with DOC to Fiordland, the late Emeritus Professor Phil Bishop was convinced that native frogs may still exist there. Perhaps the “extinct” Aurora frog was actually hiding in remote regions of Fiordland, and a dog like Holly might one day re-discover. 

Holly was trained using the native frogs at the University of Otago, Zoology Department. Debbie is hugely grateful for this because COVID-19 and subsequent cyclones and flooding in the North Island of New Zealand could have easily derailed Holly’s progress. Holly was a quick learner and, with the help of a MSc student Tegan Murrell, Debbie began to challenge Holly’s detection skills by introducing new scents like leaf litter, worms and feathers.

Holly worked incredibly hard with her trainer Debbie Bishop and graduated from the Department of Conservation’s Conservation Dogs Programme. Here on Holly’s Frog Dog Page we hope to post updates on Holly’s adventures helping in frog conservation and other activities. Check back here soon to see what Holly has gotten up to with Debbie. 

You can read more about the Air New Zealand and Department of Conservation – Conservation Dogs Programme here 

Many thanks, appreciation and gratitude to people and organisations who have contributed to making this a reality.

Holly’s Latest Adventures

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Holly’s Timeline

Feb, 2018


Holly- Glynfyre Awesome Amber was born in Wellington in February of 2018

May, 2018

Puppy class graduation



Started Rally-O

Holly has continued this (Rally-Obedience), also began her scent training to assess whether she had the drive, it was deemed that she did

Dec, 2018

Holly voted as the new face of AA Pet Insurance

Dec, 2018

Holly’s first Christmas

Aug, 2019

Preparations started to join the frog team

Oct, 2019

Holly Passed DOC interim test

Holly passed her Interim Certification for the Department of Conservation Conservation Dogs Programme/Species dogs in Timaru

Aug, 2020

First time training with live captive breed Archey’s frogs 

Oct, 2020

Holly’s first wild frog find

Holly’s first wild Archey’s frog find at Mahakirau Forest Estate in the Coromandel with Phil Bishop and Sara Smerdon

June, 2021

Holly takes the spotlight

Annie Robertson from the University of Otago SciComm Department produced a 90 Second film of Holly’s story for her assignment. In August 2021, permission was given to Auckland Zoo to use the film on their website as part of the granting of the Conservation Fund to Tegan Murrell.

Sept, 2021

Tegan Murrell awarded the Auckland Zoo Conservation Fund – Monitoring NZ endemic frogs with a scent detection dog.

May, 2022

Holly registered with St Johns

Therapy Pets to give back for all the help they gave during Phil’s illness.

Nov, 2022

Second Mahakirau visit

Holly’s second field trip to Mahakirau to do field training with wild Archey’s frogs

Feb, 2023

 Holly obtained her first Kiwi avoidance training certificate

June, 2023

Holly achieved her DOC Conservation Dogs Programme full certification in Dunedin

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Aug, 2023

Holly obtained her second Kiwi avoidance training certificate

Nov, 2023

Holly’s third field trip

Holly headed to Maud Island to do field training on Hamilton’s frogs