A sniffer dog is retiring from his post at the Edmonton International Airport after eight years working with the Canada Border Services Agency.
“Working with a dog is the best job you can ever have,” border services officer Iris Zelter said.
She met Max – who came from the SPCA in Montreal – in 2008 at CBSA training in Quebec and they’ve been together ever since.
“The very traits that make lousy pets make fantastic working dogs: not listening, always following their nose, totally ignoring you when they’re on the scent of something and never wanting to quit.”
Zelter said there have been times she’s had to physically lift Max up and carry him off the floor at the end of their shift because there were still bags to check.
“Over his eight-year career, he’s had 310 agricultural penalties with a total of $178,000 in penalties paid. He’s also found other jewellery, drugs, undeclared currency,” she said. “A single apple led to an undeclared currency seizure of $43,000 and Max found the apple.”
Max is trained to sniff out seven different odours: pork, beef, chicken, soil, plants, bulbs and apples. Since college, he’s added to his repertoire, which now sits at 15 different scents.
“He even found a box of chocolates where someone had put chocolates on top, packaged those chocolates but there were plants underneath and they were trying to hide them to bring them into Canada,” Zelter said. “He’s found trees, he’s found live tortoises – there’s a lot that he’s found over his career.”
Now, the “beagle something” and his human partner will hand over EIA duties to Beau, a Labrador-retriever, and handler Lareina Da Silva.
Meanwhile, Max will be trading sniffing for snacking.
“Max is going to come home and be a farm dog with my other two dogs,” Zelter said with a big smile.
“He’ll get to sleep on the bed, he’ll get to eat as much as he wants instead of being on a diet to keep his trim figure and he’ll get lots of treats just because he’s cute not because he has to work for them.”
Their parting advice to the new team?
“Trust your dog and enjoy the job because it’s the best job in the world.”
Some stats about Max
- He’s helped make 310 agricultural seizures
- Trained to detect food, plant and animal products
- Assisted with 72 other (non agricultural) seizures, including drugs like khat
- Also helped with seizures of currency
- Came from SPCA in Montreal
- Worked at EIA, as well as Calgary and Vancouver
- CBSA Detector Dogs have been protecting Canadians for nearly 40 years