SPEEDWAY, Ind. — You might never see a group more eager to be tested.

With tail wagging, 22 explosive-sniffing police K-9s took part in the ATF’s National Odor Recognition Test this week at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“It’s a standardized test that we use to validate that explosive detective K-9 teams can find 10 different explosives,” explained James James, a member of the ATF’s K-9 training team out of northern Virginia.

Each year, the team travels around the country to offer state and police K-9s the opportunity to be certified on explosives detection. This year included a testing session in Indianapolis. K-9s and their handlers from Indiana, Illinois and Ohio took advantage of the testing.

Central Indiana K-9’s Dave Kirkland noted his organization worked to bring the testing here.

“We are able to do it at a very low cost to the (law enforcement agencies), and we’re not having the dog and handler travel outside the state,” said Kirkland.

The actual testing involves an array of gallon-sized paint cans arranged on the floor in a circle. Some have explosive odors. Some do not. The handler moves the through cans, with K-9 sniffing inside each one. When the dog detects a type of explosive, the K-9 signals a positive “hit” by sitting. A correct detection gets the dog a treat.

To a casual observer, it may look like play, but it’s a serious exam.

“It’s a huge responsibility to ask the dogs to be able to go to a scene and discern from all the different odors that are in a building or a place, a residence, and find an explosive,” said ATF trainer David McMullen.

K-9s that pass the test receive a two-year certification.