Sheldon's desire to sniff everything got him kicked out of service dog training, but made him a standout in the arson detection program.
A Labrador retriever and golden retriever mix, Sheldon flunked out of service dog training because he was always getting distracted by scents. This served him well when he made the switch to State Farm insurance's Arson Dog Program, which has trained more than 425 canines since 1993. During this extensive training, Sheldon learned how to sniff out fuel and accelerants used in fires set by arsons.
Since 2018, Sheldon has been partnered up with John Tadlock, the fire battalion chief with the Saginaw Fire Department in Texas. He immediately impressed Tadlock during their first case investigating a suspicious fire that destroyed three vehicles at a car dealership. "We get him out of the truck and put him to work," Tadlock told the Star-Telegram. "It takes him about 30 seconds, and he gives me an alert. We dig through some debris and find a Molotov cocktail. It was just under some debris from the vehicle that had burned away, three days earlier. You couldn't even see it."
Sheldon lives with Tadlock, and the pair just finished their annual certification, which involves Sheldon proving that he can tell the difference between smells at a fire site. They train together every day, with Tadlock heaping praise and treats on Sheldon when he finds a scent.
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