Seeing-eye school dropouts get a second chance at ATF

An ATF dog in training. (Photo: Jeff Topping, Reuters)
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Trish Anderton

Many of the bomb-sniffing dogs that work for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) were originally trained as guides for the blind, but didn't make the final cut.

Being a guide requires a lot of patience and self-control, so dogs that are too curious or have to much energy are a poor fit for the role. But those qualities can make them excellent at sniffing out explosives, accelerants, and weapons.

One thing that's a must for an ATF dog is a love of food. The training is based on rewards, so the more the dog likes treats, the faster he or she will learn the necessary tasks. That's why the bureau always works with Labrador retrievers, who really love their munchies.