CIA bomb-sniffing dog flunks out of training in Twitter saga

Follow the riveting story of Lulu, a good dog just not cut out for the CIA's bomb-sniffing K9 Corps training program.

Amanda Kooser
Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
2 min read

Not every dog has its day when it comes to completing the CIA's rigorous training program for explosives-detecting K9s. The US Central Intelligence Agency posted a fascinating flood of tweets Wednesday tracing the story of Lulu, a black lab participating in the fall 2017 "puppy class" for bomb-sniffing dogs. Spoiler: Lulu flunked out.

When dogs have bad days at school, the CIA looks for a reason why, citing food allergies or boredom as potential issues. For Lulu, it went deeper than that. "Lulu was no longer interested in searching for explosives. Even when they could motivate her with food and play to search, she was clearly not enjoying herself any longer," the CIA notes in a "pupdate." 

Lulu's story gives us some fascinating insight into the CIA's dog-training program. The CIA says its K9 Corps is "the first line of defense against explosive threats to Agency personnel and buildings at Headquarters and abroad." The dogs are also on-call at all times to help other law enforcement groups. 

The agency described the decision to drop Lulu from the program as "extremely difficult." 

Lulu's tale then takes a delightful turn. She may not be cut out to be a bomb-sniffing K9, but she is destined for a life of luxury as a family pet. The CIA gave Lulu's handler the chance to adopt her and he did. The CIA reports Lulu is now playing with her handler's kids and sniffing for bunnies and squirrels in the yard instead of ferreting out explosives. 

The journey of Lulu, the bomb-sniffing dog who didn't want to sniff for bombs, is reminiscent of the children's book "The Story of Ferdinand," about a bull who would rather smell flowers than fight. 

The CIA's Twitter stream on Wednesday included a dozen photos of Lulu, including one of Lulu relaxing on the carpet in her new home:

Lulu's handler will get a new dog to train. You can follow all the furry drama through the CIA's Puppy Class page, where you can meet the other recruits and get a peek at their work regimen.

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