I can smell yo nuts and a vbed from 10 feet away
One of the frustrations I have had since arriving in country is the lack of K-9 understanding by both military and contractors. It is not anyone’s fault in particular, but it leads to confusion about what the dogs are capable of and what exactly they tell us when they are searching.
Dogs search for odor, not for actual explosives
Dogs are trained to sniff for the odor of explosives. This does not mean that there are actual explosives at the source of the odor. For example, is someone borrowed your car and smoked in it (assuming you had never smoked in it before); the odor of the cigarettes would remain in the car for several days after the car was returned.
You might not be able to tell how much that person smoked in your car or how long before it was returned, just that the car still smells like cigarettes. This is similar to what happens when the dogs “alert” to the odor of explosives. We have no way of knowing (outside of a controlled training scenario) how much explosives were in a vehicle or how long ago they were removed.
Civilian Contractor Bombdog and Partner at work
Most of us working in the overseas contractor biz will come into contact with a working dog team occasionally. You might work with a Narcotics Detection Dog (NDD) or an Explosives Detection Dog (EDD). You may also run across a Cadaver Dog, a.k.a Human Remains Dog (HRD).
No matter which type of team you are in contact with, there are some similarities that you might not know about. Also, here are some things that can help the dog be as successful as possible.
The Nose Knows…
1. All dogs, no matter the breed, have noses that are thousands of times better than ours. A good example of just how good is this…
If we were to walk into a pizza joint, we (humans) would likely smell pizza. Not any specific kind, just pizza.
If Canis Familiaris (that means dog) were to walk into said pizza joint, they would smell pizza, too. They would also smell every individual topping offered. They would smell the three types of cheese. They would smell the tomato sauce and garlic butter (this is making me hungry).
They would also smell the Polo aftershave that Guido put on this morning, the syrup for the pop machine and the little mints they put in the urinals (don’t eat those, by the way).
This is why drug traffickers have such a hard time masking the scent of the 20 kilos of Colombia’s finest. Attempts to cover-up the odor only succeed in adding more scents for the dog to pick from. Dog’s can take in multiple odors and distinguish them individually, not just the entire pizza like we can.