Magazine article Variety

She Can Feel What You're Thinking through the Leash

Magazine article Variety

She Can Feel What You're Thinking through the Leash

Article excerpt

DITA, A 3-YEAR-OLD Belgian Malinois, plays an explosives detection dog on CBS special forces drama "SEAL Team," performing stunts from helicopter rides to climbing ladders. Her handler, Justin Melnick, originally trained her to be a part of search and rescue during his work with a real-life small town police force in Indiana but later switched her to narcotics detection. "Everything we do on the show is for real, and it's all training for her," Melnick says.

How does training Dita for the show differ from what you would do in the field?

This isn't a show where they want her to do tricks like sitting up and begging or carrying [something]. This is a show that's real, and they want a real working dog. She plays an explosives detection dog, so all we do is replace the explosives odors with narcotics odors, because that's what she's trained in. So when you see her searching and she finds an explosive on the show, she's finding her narcotics odors.

What first inspired you to go down the path of armed forces and law enforcement?

I spent about six years working all over the world as a combat photographer, and it culminated in Afghanistan. …

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