This column is dedicated to helping the world understand dog’s capabilities more fully. Do not expect your dog to be surprised cause they already know! Grab your popcorn and tag along!
Have you ever met a Belgian Malinois? If you ever find yourself in a dark alley with one…please run! Not because they might try to harm you… but because they might try to talk you into buying swampland in Florida or taking them out for a cheeseburger. In other words, they might be smarter than some of us. All joking aside, Belgians are amazing dogs!
This is a story about Donald, or “Doni”, as he is called. Doni was bred in Hungary and sold for a hefty chunk of change to a company here in the United States. Representatives from the company travel to the kennels in Hungary and hand pick pups to take into their program. Doni is a Belgian/German Shepherd blend. The characteristics most valued in the recruits are a super high drive, strong social skills, and a stable mind. They like the pups with crazy ball drive that refuse to give up until their ball is recovered.
Doni’s official title is Explosive Detection Canine. Doni was trained by his handler, aka his roommate! They live together and literally become a working family unit! They spend several months learning the skill sets as they bond with each other into a viable working unit. What is even more glorious is that Doni’s handler has the option to purchase Doni when he retires. This will absolutely happen, she assures me! The team’s job is to screen cargo before airline flights at airports. Doni is trained in 9 certified explosive odors identified with incendiary devices (bombs) and he knows 13. Doni will sit in front of the cargo if he picks up the scent of a dangerous explosive. When this happens, Doni and his handler will leave the facility and a team skilled in searching the cargo will arrive to check it out. They often are audited to keep them on their toes. It’s kind of like an Easter egg hunt you wouldn’t want to be invited to. Rest assured, Doni is delighted to be invited and always finds the “rotten eggs”. At the completion of his training, Doni will be worth $50,000. Lives literally depend on this dog and trainer team successfully performing their job in order to keep us safe.
Doni actually has a pretty plush job. Even though the team works up to 15 hour days a few times a week, Doni gets 1 hour off for every 2 hours on. His break usually involves him chewing on a Kong toy – his personal favorite I hear! At the end of the workday, Doni spends time playing games with his Mommy and thinking his life is pretty spectacular…and I am inclined to agree!