Meet Fin! Shelter dog rescued, in training to help with Washington boat inspections

SPOKANE, Wash. — Fin is the newest, furriest, four-legged hire at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Right now, he’s just man’s best friend, but he’s training to be the department’s best boat inspector.

Fin is a two-year-old pup that was rescued from a shelter in Texas.

He’s now here in Washington and training to be a detection dog for invasive species on boats that travel into the state.

Fin will join Puddles, who’s been with WDFW for 5 years, in sniffing for zebra and quagga mussels that are especially harmful to both boats and bodies of water.

This year alone, the department has already found nine cases of these mussels on watercraft coming into Washington.

Fin’s training comes ahead of a busy boating season and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife says two dogs will help them search boats quicker and more accurately.

“Last year, we did almost 60,000 watercraft inspections between three inspection stations in the state so it will pick up significantly,” said Sgt. Pam Taylor with WDFW.

Fin’s trainer at Nine Realms Canine Training, Karin Wagemann, says he was found on the streets in Lafayette, Texas, brought to a shelter in San Antonio and his owners told the shelter they didn’t want him back.

K9’s For Warriors pulled him from the shelter to become a service dog.

But it was determined that while he was friendly with people, he was too driven by toys!

Luckily, that made him perfect for becoming a search dog.

“What I really liked about Fin is that because he was potentially going to be a service dog: really friendly with all people, social with everyone, good environmentals, meaning he’s safe everywhere and he has that drive all at the same time. So lovely boy,” said Wagemann.

She says the key to training Fin will be using toys to drive him to the scent of zebra and quagga mussels.

He started his training in early May and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife says he is a quick learner.

Fin is expected to start checking boats sometime in June.

READ: America Strong: Puddles the mussel-sniffing dog flags 35th boat in Washington contaminated by invasive species