Does your dog have what it takes to be a part of the Beagle Brigade?

USDA’s Detector Dog Manual offers a peek into the life of a government sniffer

Written by Beryl Lipton
Edited by JPat Brown

Floppy-eared and shiny, eagerly sniffing this bag and that, the Beagle Brigade - which, to be fair, now includes Labradors - is on the frontlines of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s efforts to prevent the entry or exit of forbidden flora and fauna. And it’s not a gig to be taken lightly. Foreign and invasive produce can pose a serious threat to unfamiliar ecosystems. Which is why it takes a special sort of pup to join their ranks.

Fortunately for detector dog wannabees, many questions can be found online as part of the National Dog Detector Manual, and with a little help from your human, you’ll soon be on your way to being the government’s nose on the ground.

Provided in response to a MuckRock user requesting the Beagle Brigade screening criteria, the NDDM is a guide for current Canine Officers. Even if you’re not trying to send your canine pal off to serve time with Uncle Sam, it’s still a helpful user manual for all beagle owners …

as well as a history lesson on the proud tradition on which your lil bow wow is about to embark.

Speaking of, you know who else loved detector dogs?

For those that want to be one of the team, you can walk yourself right through the process.

First, the telephone interview. Is your dog pleasant, bold, or obnoxious? All of these qualities are equivalent and good. Does it pee itself in the company of others? Figure that Princess won’t be allowed to play on top of passenger luggage any time soon.

Key points: your dog should be pretty smart, well-enough behaved, and like food.

Mostly it needs to like food.

Does your dog spit treats out?

Woof. Fail.

Of course, as with any competition in America, paw-in-paw with an enthusiastic lust for treats is the significant body-shaming component of the competition, and they make no bones about what they like to see.

If, however, little Lassie makes it through the hoops of social and physical trials, he or she will be well on his or her way to a career with the U.S. government …

(though not a very long one)

replete with his or her very own government-issued microchip!

Find out whether your pooch has what it takes by looking at the whole doc embedded below:


Image via Wikimedia Commons and is licensed under CC BY 2.0