During the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, American and allied troops were constantly in danger from improvised explosive devices (IEDs). However, dogs like Lucca, a German Shepherd cross, were instrumental in identifying IEDs and warning their handers by alerting to the presence of explosives, resulting in the avoidance of both military and civilian casualties. How did Lucca do it? Simple: she searched for and smelled the explosives and gave her handler a prearranged signal or “alert”, to indicate that she had located an explosive. With all the technology available to the US Department of Defense and billions of dollars spent to determine the best way to protect lives from bombs, it turns out an “old” technology, a dog's nose, is the most effective way to identify the presence of explosives.
Dogs like Lucca routinely work in hazardous, and dangerous situations to save lives. In fact, Lucca eventually lost her leg to an explosive. She was then retired and sent to live as a pet with her original handler. As the danger of IEDs at home and abroad becomes more prevalent, the use of dogs to locate explosives at public events, transportation hubs, and in military settings has increased greatly in recent years. Who knew that a dog's sniffer would end up being such a valuable source of protection, for saving lives?