A K-9 with a keen scent
Folly is a 3-year-old English Labrador Retriever who is basically a federal agent. Although she loves a good game of tug of war, fetching her tennis ball, and sipping on a Puppuchinos from Starbucks, Folly’s calm demeanor and strong olfactory system make her an excellent Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF) K-9 detection dog.
Folly began her career training as a guide dog, but her owner realized that she was drawn more to hunting and chasing squirrels. She was trained at the Canine Training Center, ATF’s National Canine Division, which “trains explosives and accelerant detection canines for local, state, federal and international law enforcement, fire investigation agencies and the military,” according to ATF’s website.
While attending the 10-week program and imprinting process, Folly was exposed to more than 19,000 different types of explosives and odors. The Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate recognizes that a dog’s sense of smell is a million times more sensitive than a human’s. Canines can be trained to detect a wide variety of specific odors, such as explosives, humans, drugs, and even fruits and vegetables.
Folly is a dependable partner to Deputy U.S. Marshall Gus Marin and a best friend to his 12-year-old hound dog, Bella. Folly and Gus train daily, seven days a week – one time per week with a group of fellow team handlers and K-9s and the other days, individually, where they train two to three times per day in open fields, vehicles and buildings. Folly is very athletic, a quality that Gus believes helped match them to one another.
Folly is patient and plays well in team environments. She is very social with other dogs and especially good with children and at public demonstrations. “Folly is very delicate and playful with children with special needs,” added Gus.
Folly works hard but is ultimately a snuggler and loves to be cuddled by her people.
By Julie Matuszewski; photos courtesy of Gust Marin