I just returned from Hawai’i, where something incomprehensible happened. I was sitting in the airport, waiting for my flight. As I waited, a USDA beagle with two handlers did a walk though the departure lounge. I was briefly thankful that I had packed nothing more incriminating than chocolate chip cookies, and watched the dog do his stuff.
I know beagles, having lived with one for three years. I also know how sniffer dogs are trained. They alert by sitting down, not by showing overt interest in a bag.
I was in the second-to-last row. Until the dog reached my row, he alerted on nothing. He showed some interest in my bag (probably the cookies), but didn’t sit. He did alert on a bag owned by a woman sitting immediately to my left, though. No doubt about it. The beagle sat after sniffing the bag, and immediately looked at his handler, who rewarded him with a food treat Otherwise, the handler did nothing.
After completing the walk though the lounge, the handler and beagle repeated their trip though one row, and one row only. Once again, the only alert was on my neighbor’s bag. Once again, the beagle got a food treat. I figured something interesting would take place soon.
Nothing did. The beagle brigade left, and 20 minutes later, the woman and her bags boarded the plane (ruling out the possibility that she was a plant to test the dog.)
WTF? Anyone have any clue why she was given a pass?