For almost a year now, RNC. Const. Russ Moores has been bringing his partner home with him at the end of his shift.

His name is Rocky, and he’s a bomb-detection dog.

The demand for police service dogs trained in explosives detection increased throughout North America after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. When the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary expanded its K-9 unit last year, it decided its new dog would be trained not only in narcotic detection but also in explosives detection.

The force began a puppy rearing program several years ago, and Moores volunteered to take a potential new recruit into his care. Rocky came from the RCMP’s puppy breeding program.

“I was lucky enough to get Rocky when he was a puppy, eight weeks old,” Moores said.

When the German shepherd was 13 months old, he and Moores spent five months at the RCMP Police Dog Service Training Centre in Innisfail, Alta.

The dogs are introduced to every explosive that could be available to a bomber and trained to detect even minute amounts of the explosive substance, according to the RCMP’s website.

Explosives detection training takes two weeks’ longer than narcotic detection training, Moores said.

“It’s not that the explosive dog is any better than the drug dog, it’s just that we are tested in a lot more different environments and with a lot more scents.”

Moores and Rocky work out of RNC headquarters at Fort Townshend in St. John’s, along with Const. Mac Tucker and police dog Zack.

Const. Kevin Morgan and his dog, Ruger, are assigned to the RNC’s Corner Brook detachment.

Rocky is the force’s only explosives-detection dog, but he, Ruger and Zack are all trained in narcotic and firearm detection, apprehension, agility, tracking and all other areas of police work where K-9s are used.

“Rocky realizes when we have to put on the lights and sirens that we’re going somewhere and there’s a good chance he’s going to be getting out of the truck to go and do some work,” Moores said.

Rocky gets particularly excited when he sees his black nylon collar.

“When I put that colour on him, he knows that he’s searching for explosives,” his handler explained.

During a training exercise Wednesday at Mile One Centre, Rocky had no trouble finding the explosives Moores had hidden beneath some blue carts.

Once Rocky sniffs out what he’s searching for, he sits completely still to let Moores know where the explosives are.

Moores said he appreciates the fact that facilities like Mile One let him conduct training exercises on their property.

“The people at the St. John’s airport and at Oceanex are great, as well. And there are also private businesses in Donovan’s Industrial Park that allow us to train in their facilities.”

A dog handler must be committed to his dog 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s Christmas Day … I exercise Rocky twice a day every day,” Moores said.

Rocky lives in an outdoor kennel at Moores’ house.

He and Moores, an 18-year-veteran of the RNC, will soon mark their first anniversary as members of the K-9 unit.

“This is the best job in the world,” Moores said.

“Hopefully, searching for explosives isn’t something we’re going to have to do a lot. But, in my first year, we’ve had explosives calls. And Rocky can be just as much a benefit to us when he clears an area, because even the most high-tech equipment can’t beat a dog’s nose.”