Nick, the first stray dog-turned sniffer, takes a test of detecting suitcases in Shanghai, east China, Nov.27, 2019. (Provided to Xinhua)
Nick, the first stray dog-turned sniffer, was a new approach in their efforts to rescue and care for street dogs, and was part of their animal protection responsibilities, according to a spokesperson with Shanghai Customs.
SHANGHAI, Dec. 12 (Xinhua) -- If people can pull themselves up by the bootstraps through hard work, so too can a stray dog.
Customs authorities in Shanghai said a stray dog will take up the post as a sniffer starting in January next year.
Nick the dog will be the first stray dog-turned sniffer working for Shanghai Customs after having passed all the required tests in late November, customs officials said.
The black-and-white springer spaniel was a "skinny, stunted and blowsy dog drenched by the rain" when it was found by Cheng Baolin, a dog trainer with the Shanghai Customs, in June.
"He was following the car when I was driving to the dog training center," said Cheng. "He jumped in as soon as I opened the door, so I took him back to the center."
Cheng named the dog after Nick, a canine colleague of his years ago, and it was then when Cheng began to wonder whether the 1-year-old pooch, with a breed suitable for sniffing and a persistent, friendly character, could be trained to become another "Nick."
Nick, the first stray dog-turned sniffer, waits for a instruction in a test place in Shanghai, east China, Nov.27, 2019. (Provided to Xinhua)
To his surprise, the stray proved to be highly gifted. "Usually it takes us two years or longer to train a sniffer dog, but Nick passed the test after around two months of training!" Cheng said.
A total of 60 canine participants took the annual tests to qualify as sniffer dogs, which assess the dogs' ability to follow instructions and detect suitcases with suspicious smells. Only about 60 percent of the group, including Nick, gained a pass.
There are 30 sniffer dogs working in Shanghai's airports, cruise terminals, train stations and international mail processing centers. In the first 11 months of 2019, sniffer dogs helped to intercept over 17,000 prohibited objects, according to Shanghai Customs.
A spokesperson with Shanghai Customs said hiring Nick was a new approach in their efforts to rescue and care for street dogs, and was part of their animal protection responsibilities. ■