TSA’s Oldest and Cutest K9 Eebbers Retires After Nearly a Decade: NPR

Eebbers, an 11-year-old explosives detection dog, retired after nearly a decade of service.

Transportation Security Administration

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Transportation Security Administration

Eebbers, an 11-year-old explosives detection dog, retired after nearly a decade of service.

Transportation Security Administration

A Transportation Security Administration K9 named Eebbers retired after nearly a decade of service, during which he earned the distinction of being the agency’s longest-serving bomb-sniffing dog, as well as its cutest.

It’s an objective fact (although it’s also true that every dog ​​is the best dog): Eebbers won the TSA’s “2022 Cutest Canine Contest” in August, shortly before celebrating his retirement with a send-off loaded with goodies at his Minneapolis home. -St. Paul International Airport (MSP).

The 11-year-old Vizsla-Labrador mix was born into the TSA’s Puppy Program at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas and, at the time of his retirement, was the last remaining Puppy Program dog working daily for the agency. It was named after the US Army Pvt. James Ebbers, who died at the age of 19 in Djibouti, Africa in 2002 while assigned to the 551st Military Police Company (based at Fort Campbell, Ky.).

In addition to his work searching for explosives as a passenger control dog at MSP, Eebbers has also assisted with security at major sporting events, including two Super Bowls, the Indianapolis 500, a NCAA National Championship and the Special Olympics World Games. And he also takes the time to have fun.

“He stays very active every day, even in the cold Minnesota winters, and he loves swimming in one of Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes in the summer,” according to the TSA.

Passenger screening dogs like Eebbers are trained to detect the scent of explosives or explosive materials among travelers, usually in security screening lines, and alert their handlers if they sniff anything suspicious. They are tested regularly to ensure they are fit for duty in busy airports – and although they are sociable, according to the agency, they are working dogs who should only be touched and fed by their parents. masters.

“His ability to seek out his trained scents amazes me every day,” said Jean Carney, Eebbers manager and lifelong partner in Minnesota. Tribune of the Stars.

She described him as smart, sweet and polite, adding that he would be waiting on the stairs at 3:30 a.m. ready to go to work.

Most dogs retire at age 7 or 8 due to the demands of high-pressure work, according to Carney, who is also retiring. She said she wanted Eebbers to “enjoy his final years as a dog.”

“It’s inevitable that he will come to a point where he will start to slow down, and maybe start not being as competent as he was when he was younger,” she said, according to CBS affiliate KENS5. “I didn’t want it to come out on a low note.”

It certainly wasn’t. Last month, Eebbers snagged the title of TSA’s cutest dog in a nationwide social media contest, in which he was chosen by public vote from among four finalists (reduced by TSA employees on almost 100).

A few days later, he and Carney celebrated their last day of work, complete with some special surprises.

Eebbers’ “do not pet” vest has been replaced with a standard collar and leash, meaning he could finally get scratched by his colleagues and admirers. He was covered in plush toys and celebrated with several bomb-shaped cakes, and he and Carney received memorial plaques.

“It was the pinnacle of what we worked for all these years. Just to let him be the dog he deserves to be,” Carney told KENS5. “He’s worked so hard all these years. He’s been so dedicated and hardworking, and the only thing he asked for was [for] this toy.”

So what does post-retirement happiness hold for the Eebbers? First, according to Carney, a swim in Iowa’s Lake Okoboji and a long walk with her sister Etti (herself an FBI retiree).

Eebbers and his fans have plenty more to look forward to. Later this year, for example, the TSA will announce the availability of its 2023 canine calendar – which will feature Eebbers on the cover.

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