Helsinki Airport is a workplace for around 20 detection dogs. Their heightened sense of smell is needed in the security work the police, customs and border control officials carry out in cooperation with Finavia.
Customs inspector Timo Lindholm is a trainer for six-month-old Labrador Retriever Paavo. Paavo will become a sniffer dog and is currently learning to pick out the scent of one drug. Helsinki Airport’s Border Control Department has also recruited a new detection puppy this year; German Shepherd Pimu is the department’s first canine employee. Pimu will specialise in uncovering illegal documents and tracking down wanted people.
Detection puppies get accustomed to the airport’s bustle
A busy airport is quite a challenging working environment for dogs, as they have heightened senses and millions of olfactory receptors in their noses.
“There are lots of different kinds of smells, people and unexpected noises to deal with as well as different kinds of spaces and stairs to navigate,” describes Lindholm.
A detection dog must be able to work calmly and fearlessly despite the multitude of stimuli. Paavo and Pimu have been selected from a specific litter and they have both passed an aptitude test. Because of their age, they’re not expected to behave perfectly at this point – they’re only getting accustomed to the busy surroundings.
Dogs are indispensable helpers in security work
After their training, Paavo and Pimu will start performing detection tasks involving people, luggage, cargo and mail.
Thanks to their acute senses, dogs are an integral part of an airport’s security work. They play an important role in preventing smuggling and uncovering crime. For the trainers spending most of their time with them, these dogs are irreplaceable, and they have their own unique personalities as well.
“Dogs are the best colleagues, and they’re always in a good mood,” says Lindholm.