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Amparo Bertram

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02:34 pm: Gone to the dogs
I had my camera at the ready today, and I got several nice shots.

The canine I'm hoping to get is named Benny. (Yes, I admit, I am influenced by the fact that his name reminds me of a certain Mountie.) Not only is his face adorable, he has a stylish black coat. The other canine that I might be assigned (though the other CBP student wants him) is Dodge.

We went through a number of training exercises today. Basically, once the dog is ready to go, we practice having him sniff bags with different food items inside. It's a lot trickier than it looks. It involves holding the leash a certain way, walking mostly sideways at just the right speed, and paying attention to both the canine and the surroundings. We're going to be doing similar exercises pretty much every day from now until the final practical exam.

Comments

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From:neonhummingbird
Date:January 24th, 2011 10:39 pm (UTC)
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Oh, they're both so beautiful - beagles are just such fabulous dogs! You're so lucky to have the opportunity to work with them!

What kind of relationship will you have with your dogs? Is is strictly professonal, or are you able to play with/snuggle them? Because beagles are very irresistable.
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From:spacealien_vamp
Date:January 24th, 2011 10:58 pm (UTC)
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Is is strictly professonal, or are you able to play with/snuggle them?

We do get to play with them. ^_^ That's part of forming a bond so that we can work well together as a team.
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From:xparrot
Date:January 24th, 2011 10:47 pm (UTC)
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ZOMG CUTE!

...okay, I know they're working dogs, but still...those ears! the noses!

(Are these dogs trained already and you're learning how to work with them, or are they being trained too, or...?)
[User Picture]
From:spacealien_vamp
Date:January 24th, 2011 11:01 pm (UTC)
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Are these dogs trained already and you're learning how to work with them, or are they being trained too, or...?

They were already trained how to locate the basic odors that we're concerned with, and how to sit. Now we have to work on reinforcing their skills and teaching them other commands, such as "stay" and "leave it."
[User Picture]
From:manga_crow
Date:January 24th, 2011 11:03 pm (UTC)
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You can't beat a stylish black coat for looking good ^^
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From:spacealien_vamp
Date:January 24th, 2011 11:40 pm (UTC)
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I would tend to agree.
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From:mangaroo
Date:January 24th, 2011 11:10 pm (UTC)
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AH! They're both adorable. I can't believe they pay you to love a beagle. Can I meet him when you come home or do the dogs only interact with CBP personnel?

(Is it possible to fail the practical exam? What happens to people who do?)
[User Picture]
From:spacealien_vamp
Date:January 24th, 2011 11:19 pm (UTC)
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Can I meet him when you come home or do the dogs only interact with CBP personnel?

In general, they stay at the airport/kennel. However, we do take them on field trips to give demonstrations at various county fairs and such, so maybe you can meet them at one of those.

Is it possible to fail the practical exam?

Yes, though the instructors do as much as possible to prevent that from happening.

What happens to people who do?

I'm not entirely sure. It might depend on the reason for the failure. (For example, is it handler error, or is it a canine performance issue?)
[User Picture]
From:mangaroo
Date:January 25th, 2011 04:13 am (UTC)
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Does he come back on the flight with you, or will he be sent out separately?
[User Picture]
From:spacealien_vamp
Date:January 25th, 2011 09:59 pm (UTC)
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Does he come back on the flight with you, or will he be sent out separately?

The dog gets sent several days later.
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From:wednesday_10_00
Date:January 25th, 2011 12:16 am (UTC)
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I can't believe they pay you to love a beagle.

I know! Where is the job that will pay me to love a kitty? :(
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From:gnine
Date:January 24th, 2011 11:42 pm (UTC)
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HOMG, they're ADORABLE!

How old are the dogs? (they look quite young) and how long will one work before they retire it? If they can, will they try to keep the same person with the dog for its entire career?
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From:spacealien_vamp
Date:January 24th, 2011 11:47 pm (UTC)
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How old are the dogs?

I don't know exactly. I think they're between 1 and 2 years old.

how long will one work before they retire it?

It depends on the health of the dog of course, but they could work about 7 years, possibly more.

If they can, will they try to keep the same person with the dog for its entire career?

Yes, that's the plan. And the handler gets first dibs on keeping the dog when it retires.
[User Picture]
From:photoash
Date:January 24th, 2011 11:56 pm (UTC)
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Awww they are so adorable and you look nice with Benny!! :)
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From:spacealien_vamp
Date:January 25th, 2011 01:19 am (UTC)
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Thanks!
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From:wednesday_10_00
Date:January 25th, 2011 12:14 am (UTC)
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Aww, how adorable! I actually kinda prefer the non-stylish brown coat, but they're both cuties. The shot of Benny's face is darling.
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From:spacealien_vamp
Date:January 25th, 2011 01:20 am (UTC)
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I'm sure I'll be happy with whichever one I get.

There is a third dog, but he is significantly younger and less well trained than these two.
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From:kirbyfest
Date:January 25th, 2011 01:29 am (UTC)
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Oh, he's DARLING. They're both darling.
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From:spacealien_vamp
Date:January 28th, 2011 11:08 am (UTC)
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It's such a treat to get to work with them.
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From:mvrdrk
Date:January 25th, 2011 04:31 am (UTC)
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Beagles!!!! Yum!
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From:amilyn
Date:January 25th, 2011 04:33 am (UTC)
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SO TOTALLY ADORABLE!!!

I hope everything goes great!
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From:spacealien_vamp
Date:January 28th, 2011 11:06 am (UTC)
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Thanks! I'm told that the dogs will try to test us to see how much they can get away with--it's already happening to one of the students. Hopefully it won't be too difficult to overcome.
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From:nitasee
Date:January 25th, 2011 07:57 pm (UTC)
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I know they're working dogs, but still.....THEY'RE SO ADORABLE!!!
[User Picture]
From:spacealien_vamp
Date:January 28th, 2011 11:08 am (UTC)
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Aren't they? One of the hard parts of working a beagle is trying to stop people, not just from petting them, but also from taking pictures while still in the inspection area. I don't blame them, but it's still a security risk.
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