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February 10, 2013 at 6:40 PM

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Retired bomb detection dog to comfort seniors

Stryker, the first rescue dog to join Boeing's Explosive Detection Dog program and the first to be fully trained in the company, has retired after seven years and is switching to a new career providing affection and comfort at a senior center.

Stryker checks the refreshments at his farewell party. Photo by Marian Lockhart / Courtesy of Boeing

The Labrador mix came from the Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), and has been with Boeing since 2006.

Stryker and handler Chad Olson, one of 12 K-9 teams at Boeing, inspected planes before deliveries, incoming freight, vehicles, luggage, packages and items left behind. The team was trained to deal with bomb threats, find weapons, assist in protecting dignitaries and work special events.

In addition to his work sniffing out potential trouble, Stryker became known to sit and hold hands, offer a paw to shake or even a hug. Those friendly skills will be put to good use after Stryker's retirement from Boeing. The talented canine is training to be a therapy comfort dog at the Snohomish County Senior Center where he will be able offer a shake, lick or a nuzzle to anyone who might be in need of a gentle reminder that someone cares.

Stryker, who will be 9 years old in May, offered this in a speech (written by Michael S. Wiegand and read by handler Chad Olson) at his retirement party:

"To my K-9 buddies and trainers: Treasure this -- it goes by too fast. And to the rest of you, treasure us. We keep you safe and we do even if it means putting ourselves in danger."

When Stryker is not training or working, he can be found hanging out with friends, playing with toys and napping with Sabby, a cat pal, at Olson's home.

Handler Chad Olson and Stryker. Photo by Marian Lockhart / Courtesy of Boeing

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