Every dog has their day, and today belongs to Alona, the winner of this year’s TSA Cutest Canine Contest!
We tallied over 131,000 votes from you on our social media platforms. Alona, an Explosives Detection Canine out of McCarren International Airport in Las Vegas, was our best in show. So let’s roll out the red carpet and put our paws together for the goodest of good gurls!
Born in the country of Colombia, 4-year-old Alona is a golden retriever with a special story. Her full name is Nirvana-Alona. The first part of her name, Nirvana, was given to her at birth from her breeder in Colombia. The second part of her name pays honor and respect to one of the victims of 9/11. 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.
Here are more tidbits about this tail-wagging canine:
- TSA K9 Alona is bilingual! She knows commands in both English and Spanish.
- Her favorite toy is a red rubber ball, which came with her from Colombia.
- Alona loves listening to pop music and playing fetch in wide open parks when she’s not on duty.
- Despite her layers of fur, Alona doesn’t mind the Las Vegas heat. She wears booties to protect her paws from the hot pavement and enjoys all the sights and smells Las Vegas has to offer.
TSA’s Explosives Detection Canines are an integral part of our mission, and training is no easy task. Conventional Explosives Detection Canine teams undergo a 12-week training course, with passenger-screening canine teams undergoing an additional 4 weeks of training. Even after graduating, teams are continually assessed to make sure they can still sniff out any threats to our transportation systems.
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. 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.
Thanks again to everyone who voted in TSA’s Cutest Canine Contest. Did you have a favorite dog who didn’t win? Don’t worry, you haven’t seen the last of our runners-up. Lexi, Badger, Lexa and other TSA K9s will be a part of our 2022 TSA Canine Calendar. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for that later this year!