For 2-year old Mickey, it's play. But for Mickey's handler, it's all business…a serious one. Mickey, a frisky, energetic German Shepherd, is one of 37 bomb-sniffing dogs from all over the country in Reno this week. Why Reno? Because we have casinos…the ultimate distraction. The TSA's Nico Melendez told us they even took the dogs to the Circus Circus arcade: "We had dogs going through there with balloons popping, children screaming, bells going off, vibrations on the floor...it's very unique, and they still sniffed out what they needed to."
Also joining the casino cacophony is Drover...a playful 3-year old who patrols the UC college campus in Berkeley. Keeping a firm hand on the leash, his handler James Sprecher told us, "We patrol every day...he comes to work with me. He's a lab, and the labs I think are just really cut out for this type of work. They have that natural hunting instinct."
Bomb-sniffing is a job that Drover has trained for since he was a puppy. He's very agile, and talk about a sense of smell: Drover is able to detect one particle in a trillion of any substance. When dogs like Drover and Mickey find an explosive odor, they get a toy and lots of praise. It's a process that's repeated hundreds of times until the dog learns "the game."
Once they do learn the game, they have the ultimate job security. The TSA's Tammy Quirin told us, "We dump billions of dollars into technology every year, and to this day we cannot develop a machine that beats the capabilities of a dog's nose."
And the dogs are then relied on for the most important jobs. Shaun Keast is the Canine Sgt. at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport. He told us that "Locally here in Reno, most of the time Air Force One lands at the Nevada Air National Guard, our canines have already searched the area and the motorcades."
As for Drover, he's one of the new kids. He hasn't found a bomb yet, or even any drugs. Handler James did tell us, "He found a sandwich!" But all kidding aside, when they turn pro, they're unbeatable. As Sgt. Keast told us, "More often you'll trip up the handler, but not the dog!"
Saturday, May 25 2013 2:16 AM EDT2013-05-25 06:16:04 GMT
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