A narcotics officer is hanging up his collar at Minnesota's border

Miky's work led to drug seizures in International Falls
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K9 Miky and Officer Pete Benedix have been working side by side at the Port of International Falls since Miky's arrival in 2012.

Now they'll still have plenty of time together, but it won't be while they're working.

Miky's career as a drug sniffing dog with the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) office in northern Minnesota came to an end with a retirement party sendoff last week, the agency announced Monday.

While he won't be coming in to the office anymore, Miky and his partner will still be seeing plenty of each other because Officer Benedix has adopted his K9, CBP says.

Narcotic detector dogs

CBP says a detector dog's career lasts as long as they can handle the workload. That's almost never more than about eight years and in Miky's case it was five.

It was 1970 when what was then known as the Customs Service began using K9s to sniff out narcotics. They use several breeds including Labrador and golden retrievers, German shepherds, beagles, and mixed breeds. CBP has a canine center in El Paso, Texas, and recruits the dogs (male or female) when they're one to three years old.

A few years ago National Geographic looked at how CBP trains its drug sniffing dogs by having them find toys that are scented with marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamines, or heroin.

Miky spent his career sniffing out narcotics, but law enforcement agencies are also using dogs to detect chemicals, explosives, and even invasive species like zebra mussels.

There's no denying that K9 officers do turn up drugs. They're sometimes prone to false alarms, though, and some scientific research suggests that comes from their desire to please their human handlers, who might be giving off subtle signals when they suspect the presence of drugs.

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