The CIA Is Training A Bunch Of Dogs To Sniff For Bombs & We Can't Even

By Travis Greenwood

Everyone speaks doggo these days — and the spooks at the CIA are no exception.

Best known for hatching shadowy coups and toppling foreign governments, America's top intelligence gathering agency is pivoting to something less clandestine and decidedly more cute: Teaching a class of 6 dogs (all female, a first) to detect bombs.

The news comes to us by way of Twitter (because of course it does) where the agency has been sharing the dogs' story as they progress through 16 weeks of recruitment and training, upon completion of which they graduate and join the CIA's K9 Corps.

According to an update posted on its website, the agency opts exclusively for "labrador retrievers because of their non-stop energy, friendly demeanor, and love of food" (same, LOLs).

"Our program," they continue, "uses positive training methods only, and the dogs are trained using food rewards, so a strong food drive and a high level of energy are extremely important."

But enough of the boilerplate, let's meet the pups, all of whom were sourced from Susquehanna Service Dogs, a dog training service located in Grantville, Pennsylvania.

First up is Indigo, who is described as "feisty ... and surprisingly strong for her small size".

The CIA Is Training A Bunch Of Dogs To Sniff For Bombs And I Can't Even
credit: CIA.gov

Next is Suni. She's said to be "happy, bubbly, [and] a little too smart for her own good."

The CIA Is Training A Bunch Of Dogs To Sniff For Bombs And I Can't Even
credit: CIA.gov

The third new recruit is Suni's littermate, Heide. Handlers note that she is fond of jumping "on cars, tables, and anything else taller than herself," which they add is a desirable trait for explosive detection canines.

The CIA Is Training A Bunch Of Dogs To Sniff For Bombs And I Can't Even
credit: CIA.gov

The fourth team member — and the oldest at slightly more than two years of age — is Freya. According to her bio, she has "incredible drive and energy, and ... stole the hearts of everyone at Susquehanna". #hustle

The CIA Is Training A Bunch Of Dogs To Sniff For Bombs And I Can't Even
credit: CIA.gov

Batting fifth is Lulu, who has two personalities. During play sessions, she's "hyper and silly", but when it comes time to work "is extremely sensitive to her surroundings and what is being asked of her." Unlike her peers, Lulu will join the Fairfax County Police Department in Virginia upon the fulfillment of the training process.

The CIA Is Training A Bunch Of Dogs To Sniff For Bombs And I Can't Even
credit: CIA.gov

Rounding out the squad is Nicole who is a bit of a showboat and likes to "jump into the air on all fours."

The CIA Is Training A Bunch Of Dogs To Sniff For Bombs And I Can't Even
credit: CIA.gov

After a visit to the agency's veterinarian earlier in September for checkups and vaccinations (all were cleared and said to be in good health), these heckn' good girls began their schooling, which is split into two phases, in earnest.

The CIA Is Training A Bunch Of Dogs To Sniff For Bombs And I Can't Even
credit: CIA.gov

The first 6 weeks focus on what the CIA calls "imprint training", which is used to socialize the dogs and prepare them for the tasks to come.

The next portion, consisting of 10 weeks, sees the pups develop and hone their ability to identify bomb mixtures, more than 20,000 (!!!) in total.

"The first few days," the agency writes, "are spent teaching pups the concept of sniffing on command. A small round tin with holes in top is filled with a scent."

"Trainer presents tin to pup who sniffs it[.] Trainer then erupts into squeals of delight, jumps around & tells them they are a h*ckin' good dog" (I TOLD YOU EVERYONE SPEAKS DOGGO THESE DAYS)

Positive matches are reinforced with heaps of pats, belly rubs, and kibble, delicious, delicious kibble.

Rinse, wash, and repeat, up to 35 or 40 times consecutively.

For now, the dogs wake at sunrise for the first of three daily sessions that take occur every day of the week, even on weekends and holidays.

But it's not all hard work: At the end of each day, the dogs are gifted by the instructors with "special" cookies (presumably of the non-brainwashing variety). Seen here is Nicole bolting enthusiastically towards hers.

And already the dog's have adopted the agency's famed code of silence: As of press time, these good girls could neither confirm nor deny their role in chewing agency director's Mike Pompeo's favorite loafers to bits. 😉

For more on the dogs' journey, follow along at the CIA's website and Twitter.