- The Washington Times - Monday, December 23, 2002

MOSCOW Part Siberian husky, part Turkmen jackal, a super-sniffer dog with an enhanced sense of smell was unleashed last week by Russian airline Aeroflot in its fight against terrorists and drug smugglers.
The animals are products of a Russian scientific-research project, begun 27 years ago, to produce the ultimate sniffer dog. Their breeders contend that these dogs are much more effective than the Labrador retrievers or German shepherds more commonly used in the West.
A name for the new breed has yet to be chosen, although huscal and jacky have, apparently, been ruled out.
A new Aeroflot-run kennel in Moscow will raise the dogs and send them to airports where they will patrol and sniff passengers' bags.
"They can sniff out certain explosives that machines can't trace," says Klim Sulimov, Aeroflot's chief dog breeder.
The husky and Turkmen jackal were picked for the project because of their extremely keen noses.
The former can sniff out the faintest odors in Arctic conditions, when the deep cold suppresses smells, while the jackal has a nose more sensitive than its cousin, the domestic dog.
Valery Okulov, Aeroflot's general director, says it can detect microscopic amounts of explosives.
The dogs are a quarter-jackal. At first sight, they look much like a normal husky, although they are a bit smaller and have a jackal's thick, black whiskers.
Siberian huskies are known for their obedience, while pure jackals make poor working dogs. They are too afraid of people and are hard to train and domesticate. They hail from the warmer climates of Central Asia and suffer in the Russian winter.
The husky parentage makes the new breed not only perfect for cold-weather work, but also easier to train than most other dogs.
"My dogs combine the qualities of Arctic-reindeer herding dogs, which can work in temperatures as low as [minus 100 degrees Fahrenheit], and jackals, which enjoy the heat of up to [100 degrees Fahrenheit]. They're perfect for our country," Mr. Sulimov said.
Forty of the dogs have been bred so far. Thirty are working at Moscow's Sheremetyevo-2 international airport.
Inside one airliner, Mr. Sulimov demonstrated the dog's skills. A briefcase full of guns and grenades was hidden on the plane. Mirka, the sniffer dog, was let loose and went straight to the case, nudging it and whining.
It was rewarded with an Aeroflot biscuit.
Security at Russian airports has been a growing concern. Heroin trafficking from Afghanistan and Central Asia through Russia has grown rapidly since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Fears of terrorist attacks were heightened by a raid on a Moscow theater in October, when 50 armed Chechen rebels took more than 750 people hostage.
Aeroflot is also hoping to make some money out of the new breed. Lev Koshlyakov, the airline's deputy chief, said: "There is a great interest from other airlines for this new breed."
He contends that each of the dogs is worth about $5,000 and is confident that his jackal crossbreed is a dog that's about to have its day.

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