Congratulations to an award-winning team from Stockton University -- K-9 Freya and her handler Lt. Tracy Stuart -- on their 1st and 3rd place finishes earlier this month at the United States Police Canine Association's 2021 National Detector Dog Trials.

Freya, a golden retriever, sniffed her way into 3rd place in the country by sniffing out explosives in her first ever national competition, held in Plainsboro, NJ, on May 2-5.

According to a statement from Stockton, K-9 Freda, with Stuart guiding her, detected explosives during vehicle and package searches taking 1st place in both categories.

The pair also partnered with the Mount Laurel K-9 team and together took 1st place regionally. More than 100 canine teams from across the country specializing in narcotics, explosive, cadaver and accelerant scents competed.

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Stuart says as soon as Freya picks up on an odor that she has been trained to recognize, she alerts her by sitting down and focusing her attention on the location.

To celebrate all of the hard work that ended in a national title, Freya enjoyed a grilled salmon dinner and snuggled in a Wonder Woman blanket at bedtime the night of the win.

Lt. Stuart had nothing but praise for her partner.

"When I play the movie reel back in my head, she looked exceptional. She tore it up. She's proving herself to be not only a force to be reckoned with in the explosives world, but she's really proving that she knows her odors, and she's ready to rock 'n roll to serve our community,"

Freya's win follows back-to-back 1st place national titles captured by Stuart and Stockton's popular chocolate lab, K-9 Hemi, in 2018 and 2019. Last year, the competition was canceled due to the pandemic, but Stuart and Freya completed the State Police K-9 Academy certification last July.

During K-9 Academy, Stuart apprenticed as a scent detection trainer and earned her trainer certification.

Since completing the Academy, the two have been training daily.

"It's all about growing and developing not only her as an explosive detection dog, but also her and I as a team. That's the recipe that makes the magic. The canine and the handler really need to work together. There's a certain degree of synergy that has to happen so you can understand your dog and your dog can understand you."

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