x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Heaven scent from Russia

Russia has a long history with dogs and science, ranging from Ivan Pavlov's 19th-century behavioural experiments with canines to the ill-fated Laika, the dog which soared into history in the 1950s as the first animal to enter - and then die - in orbit.

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AD201010709239956AR

Russia has a long history with dogs and science, ranging from Ivan Pavlov's 19th-century behavioural experiments with canines to the ill-fated Laika, the dog which soared into history in the 1950s as the first animal to enter - and then die - in orbit. That legacy also extends to breeding. Klim Sulimov began mating huskies and jackals in 1975, when he was employed by the Russian police.

Today, the fruits of his labours work for the Russian airline Aeroflot, where he is the head dog breeder and trainer for 50 Sulimovs. The dogs have the scavenger's nose of a wild jackal and their Siberian husky heritage allows them to work during the bitterly cold Russian nights, where the temperature can plummet to -40°C. However, most Sulimovs work in the comfortable confines of Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport, where they work to sniff out 12 chemical components used in explosives that are odourless to humans.

The dogs' olfactory organs are so sensitive that they have mistaken hunters for terrorists, detecting gunpowder residue left behind days earlier. Unlike other sniffer breeds, they take their own initiative and do not need instructions to search. At an average height of only 42cm to the shoulder, they can crawl into tight spaces on planes and quickly trot around passengers at the airport to sniff through their luggage.

"These dogs are very friendly," said Azat Zaripov, the airline's deputy head of the aviation security. "They're easily educated and easily trained. Over the next 40 years new generations will have perfect genetics."