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K9s train to detect drugs and explosives aboard the Battleship Wisconsin

Handlers with AK9I brought their K9s to the Battleship Wisconsin to train in a new and unfamiliar environment.

NORFOLK, Va. (WVEC) — A different breed of hard workers is being put to the test on the Battleship Wisconsin in Norfolk.

Handlers who are training with AK9I trained their K9 partners to sniff out cocaine, methamphetamine, C4 and other products in a series of tests aboard the battleship on Monday. The ship served as an unfamiliar and unusual setting to help the dogs acclimate to working in different environments.

Rick Ross, a trainer taking the course and former law enforcement officer in North Carolina, said he's constantly amazed by how much his dog Kobe can detect.

"I can't smell it but he can, he's always ready to find the odor and sit on it," Ross said.

The dogs and their trainers are in the middle of a 3-month long course with AK9I. Some handlers will use the K9s in future work with law enforcement agencies and government work, while others will go into private contracting for events like concerts and ballgames.

"I really underestimated the skills that K9s have," Ross said. "The tools that he brings to the table are irreplaceable."

Trainer Callie Farill said she's using the Battleship Wisconsin experience to test her dog Barin.

"I might not have another opportunity to train on this ship so I'm going to take everything I can from this and put him through everything I can," Farill said.

She said she knows in her line of work, Barin could save her life.

"If that bomb does go off and he happened to be right there then he just saved my life," she said. "In my opinion they're invaluable."

Farill, Ross and the other trainers in the class continue to bond with their new partners.

"I wouldn't do anything else," Ross said. "If I can do this for the rest of my life I'd be completely happy."

Just weeks after meeting for the first time, the handlers said their work partners are becoming life partners.

"That's my buddy, that's my best friend, I wouldn't trade him for the world," Ross said.

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