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Bo the dog keeps Capitol safe, one sniff at a time
Jan 25, 2013 - By James Chilton, MCT News Service
If you tried to explain to Bo what nitroglycerin is, odds are he would have no idea what you were talking about. But ask him to find some, and he will, no questions asked -- not that he could ask questions, anyway.
Every day when the Legislature is in session, Bo traipses around the Capitol complex, searching for compounds that might do people harm.
It can be exhausting work, but Bo is happy to do it. All he asks in exchange is a few minutes with his favorite chew toy.
A 7-year-old Labrador, Bo is one of a handful of specially trained dogs used to hunt for explosives across Wyoming, from the halls of the Legislature to schools and other public buildings.
His handler, Larry Majerus, is deputy director of the Wyoming Office of Homeland Security. He has been partnered with Bo since 2005.
"(He) was about eight months old when he started, and he was about 13 months when I got him and started weekly training four hours a week," Majerus said.
"They probably get a good handle on nine to 10 odors. But by the time they're ready to retire, they have a vocabulary of 14 to 17 odors."
Bo and his fellow Labrador bomb-sniffer, Haggard, have been trained to recognize a variety of substances that are frequently used in or as bombs. Those include C4, ammonium nitrate, smokeless and black powders, "det cords" (high-speed fuses filled with a fast-burning substance called pentaerythritol tetranitrate) and explosive gels.
Bo sees his job as more of a game, albeit an important one.
Majerus said Bo's training hearkens back to his primal wolf ancestors, using his keen sense of smell to root out prey from its hiding place.
Editor's note: James Chilton writes for the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle in Cheyenne