HE was once given up by his Hampshire owners.

But now a Southampton rescue dog has proved the paw-fect pet detective, after sniffing out a £17,000 haul of smuggled cigarettes.

One-year-old cocker spaniel crossbreed, Frankie, foiled the criminals as they attempted to bring 40,000 cigarettes into Ireland from the Canary Islands. The haul was seized in two separate operations at Dublin Airport, where two men were arrested. Frankie was taken to the Blue Cross rehoming centre in Hedge End in June 2012, because his previous owners found it difficult to give him the attention he needed. But staff at the centre soon realised how sociable and energetic the pup was.

They sent a film of Frankie to Wagtail UK, a company that trains and provides specialist detection dogs in Britain and abroad.

And just months later, in November last year, Frankie joined the Irish Revenue’s Customs Service, where he has been involved in a host of successful seizures. Helen Evans, a specialist trainer at Wagtail’s UK, said: “Frankie is like no other dog I have trained before. He was incredibly bright and often too bright for us handlers. “In the beginning stages it felt like Frankie was training us! He was incredibly cheeky and loved to search. “His motivation was fantastic and he loved the reward playtime.”

Frankie is the second Blue Cross rescue dog to get a job with the Irish Revenue’s Customs Service. Last year Ralph, an English springer spaniel, discovered 50kg of cannabis worth over a quarter of a million pounds during a stop-and-search of a car at Rosslare europort.