Here she comes, TSA's 2021 Cutest Canine...
The Transportation Safety Administration on Friday announced the winner of the agency's 2021 Cutest Canine contest. Alona, a four-year-old golden retriever, works as an explosive detection canine at the Las Vegas McCarren International Airport in Nevada.
Alona isn't just a explosives expert, she is also bilingual and can respond to commands in both English and Spanish. The dog's full name is Nirvana-Alona, with Nirvana given to her by the breeder in her home country of Colombia. The second part of the name, Alona, pays tribute to one of the victims of 9/11, the agency said in a press release.
"Alona Abraham was an Israeli woman visiting her family in the U.S. and a passenger on Flight 175 from Boston to Los Angeles on that fateful morning. Nirvana-Alona’s spirit embodies the joy that Ms. Abraham brought to those around her," the agency said.
The perky pooch was chosen after more than 131,000 votes were counted through a three-day contest held online through the TSA's social media accounts.
"Our canines have fun and work hard, but we don't want to overlook their dedicated handlers who live and work with their TSA canine," the agency wrote. "Being an Explosives Detection Canine Handler means being on the frontlines each and every day. So we want to give a special shout-out to Alona’s handler and BFF, Vanessa."
According to the agency, canines used to detect explosives go through an extensive 12-week training course, with passenger-screening canine teams having to undergo an additional 4 weeks of training. School never stops for these pups as the canine teams are continually assessed to make sure they can still sniff out any threats to our transportation systems.