WATCH: Behind the invisible wall: Even a little beagle lends a hand at Dulles International Airport

Calan is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection beagle. (WTOP/Ginger Whitaker)(WTOP/Ginger Whitaker)
CHANTILLY, Va. — Not all police dogs are big and scary.

While looking into the issue of cash smuggling at Dulles International Airport, we met Calan, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection beagle.

He wears an official Field Operations vest, and he’s often mistaken for a dog who sniffs out bombs or drugs.

Travelers at first “have no idea what this little dog is doing,” says handler Kristi Currier, “and they say ‘I’m so surprised a drug dog is so small’ … and of course he’s not a drug dog.”

Currier is an agriculture specialist, and Calan is an agriculture canine. He sniffs for about 60 different odors that could be plants or foods.

As many dog owners know, small dogs have their advantages: They’re more portable than larger dogs; they eat less food, and they make smaller messes. But there is a reason they’re not used for sniffing out more dangerous items.

“That drug dog often is right there to protect an officer if there is a situation,” Currier says. “I don’t have that problem. People are pretty understanding.”

First Line Supervisory Officer Christopher Downing says dogs like Calan do a simple but crucial job.

“We’re trying to protect the ecosystem of the United States,” he says.

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John Aaron

John Aaron is a news anchor and reporter for WTOP. After starting his professional broadcast career as an anchor and reporter for WGET and WGTY in Gettysburg, PA, he went on to spend several years in the world of sports media, working for Comcast SportsNet, MLB Network Radio, and WTOP sports.

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