Travelling with undeclared items through BNE? Think again. Sly packaging and sneaky hiding places are no match for Rhys Armstrong and his Australian Border Force protector dogs, York and Oggy, who sniff, search and snuffle their way through the airport on the hunt for restricted and prohibited goods.
Rhys began his career in Detector Dog Handling in 2011 to help protect our national security. The fact he has made some new fur-friends along the way is the perk of the job.
"I've been working with York for more than five years now, and now with Oggy for 18 months," has said.
"It's safe to say I've bonded with them both during our time working and training together everyday."
The dogs give new meaning to the term 'man's best friend' by playing a significant role in keeping Australia's borders secure. Both labradors underwent extensive training to learn how to search freight, mail, luggage, vehicles, people, and even aircrafts, with non-discriminatory precision and focus.
"Both York and Oggy know specific commands for different searches," Rhys said.
"When given my signal, they can sniff out anything from illicit substances to large amounts of money, no matter who's carrying the goods."
A rigorous program is in place to transform each dog from playful puppy to qualified detective. From breeding through to juvenile dog development, sequence training and quality assurance, only the most capable and compliant canines graduate as Border Force detector dogs.
"The dogs are like people - they each have different personalities and learning styles," Rhys said.
"I love learning the individual intricacies of each dog and how to get the best results out of them through strategic thinking and planning."
Despite his seven years working alongside the dogs, Rhys still gets a thrill when his clever labs detect contraband.
"Whether it be detecting a few grams or sniffing out hundreds of kilos, being on the end of the lead when your dog finds something is very rewarding!"
"No matter the amount of bags or passengers at BNE, locals can rest assured that York, Oggy and I will be there at every step to keep Australia's borders safe and secure."
Watch a day in the life of airport detector dogs