Zen cashes out of Customs duties
One of Auckland International Airport’s pioneers is embarking on his muchearned retirement.
Zen, New Zealand Customs’ first cash-detecting dog, is laying down his harness for a life of leisure.
The chocolate labrador was born in 2008 and was a gift from the Australian Customs breeding centre in Melbourne.
He was originally trained to detect white powders and ingredients used in making methamphetamine and started working at the airport in 2010.
Last year Zen was retrained as Customs’ first money-sniffing dog as part of a joint pilot programme between the organisation and the police.
In his first week back on the job at the airport he sniffed out about $140,000 in concealed cash.
Zen was also put to work at the International Mail Centre in Mangere and carrying out search warrants at houses. His handler, senior customs officer Pettina Mitchener, says those were among his favourite workplaces.
‘‘He used to get so excited on warrants that he would pirouette around the room,’’ she says.
Zen will retire to Ms Mitchener’s home and will be spending as much time as possible playing in his own paddling pool or the heated pool at Water Woofs, a canine hydrotherapy clinic in Henderson.
Money trail: Zen in action at the International Mail Centre.