Britain's most sensitive nose stops sniffing

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The Independent Online
A LEGEND among detectives, and one who was never afraid to follow his nose, took an astonishing success rate with him as he bowed out yesterday.

Egg, a nine-year-old black and white English springer spaniel, is possibly Britain's most successful Customs sniffer dog. One retired Dover dog may have given him a run for his money, according to officers, but his record of pounds 26m of drugs uncovered in six years marks him out as champion of the North. He and his handler, Dave Jones, have uncovered 266 drug hauls.

Egg - recruited from the Battersea Dogs' Home, where he was named after being taken as a stray one Easter - almost died while searching a house last year. He found heroin in a binliner, but it burst and the dog had to have his stomach pumped in hospital.

Egg's most cherished finds include three tortoises hidden on a boat. His biggest single haul was 360kg of cocaine on a Colombian ship at Liverpool docks. Lately, though, he has been "losing a bit of confidence", said Mr Jones. An eye condition, which will eventually leave him blind, has been affecting him. "He's also slowed down because of his arthritis," added Mr Jones. So Egg, one of eight dogs based at Manchester airport, will retire on health grounds.

"We will miss him a great deal. He could have carried on, but his work may have aggravated his conditions," said Mr Jones, who began his career with Egg and is yet to be assigned a new partner.

"He is tremendously successful in sniffing out drugs like cocaine, heroin, cannabis and ecstasy. Normally dogs are reviewed at seven and some retire then but Egg was so good we kept him on for longer."

Mr Jones said some of Egg's finds were down to "being in the right place at the right time" but his success had much to do with a sense of fun. "He was playful and loved attention," his handler said. "He found drugs out of pure enjoyment."