Canines to the Rescue

NTCD hopes to increase training courses to meet emerging security challenges

Younis Ahmad Kaloo

Tekanpur: Shera, a German Shepherd, walked gently to the left of his handler towards me, as I sat next to CVO Officer Commanding, Dr G S Nag, in the lawn adjacent to his office at National Training Centre for Dogs (NTCD) at Tekanpur, Gwalior. Tucked between his firm jaws was the arch-shaped handle of a basket covered in a velvet cloth and laden with petals of Bougainvillea flowers. Perching his forelegs on a small platform before him, Shera of infantry patrol squad welcomed me to the demonstration that would start soon after.

Canines to the Rescue

 

Demonstration

The demonstration began with the dogs standing upright on their hind limbs on the stools painted in white, saluting the audience with their handlers behind doing the same. Nearby, outside the premises of the training centre, students burst into a loud sound of cheers. “Is there is a tournament going on in the school?” enquired the Officer Commanding from one of the officers present, who replied in the affirmative. The dogs then fell out to return to perform their individual tasks that they specialise in.



“This is called leg crossing, a part of the tactical movement,” said Dr Nag as a black Labrador moved through the legs of his walking handler. The other part of the tactical movement includes ‘crawling with the handler’. “This is tactically very important when you are going towards the enemy, say, through a trench, without wanting to be noticed,” he added.

Next was the narcotic detection. One of the four briefcases placed in a row had narcotic drugs in it. Bravo, a German Shepherd, followed by his handler, sniffed and moved from one briefcase to the other until he put his right foreleg on the third one and tried hard to open it with his mouth. Judging by his behaviour, the handler, after easing him, opened the briefcase and showed us the narcotic substance inside. The rest of the briefcases were empty.

‘Enemy Flush Out’ was another part of the demonstration. The purpose of training dogs in this domain is to establish the location of the enemy hiding in a building. “In a situation where the fire stops from the enemy’s end after an exchange and to establish whether or not he is still there, dead or alive, with ammunition or without ammunition, we send dogs with cameras mounted on their heads. And when four to five dogs enter the building where the enemy is hiding, they create panic inside which will cause the enemy to open fire once again. This will inform us that he is alive, has ammunition, and about the floor he is on. Not only this, the dogs also pounce on the enemy. And to protect dogs from enemy fire we are planning to procure bullet-proof jackets for these dogs,” explained Dr Nag.

In wildlife detection phase of the demonstration, three men with some parcels, calling themselves common villagers, were stopped. They insisted the parcels had clothes in them. Suspicious about their claims, a Belgian Shepherd was called in. Sniffing one after the other, the Shepherd stopped at the last one, clasped it in the mouth and shook it in anticipation of opening it. With the handler now aware of the suspicious parcel, he took it from his dog and searched. “The skin of a leopard, Sir,” said the handler to the Officer Commanding, holding the leopard skin.  Similarly, a suspicious smuggler, not complying with repeated calls from a soldier to stop from going ahead, was caught by a Guard dog. So firm was the dog’s grip on the smuggler’s arm that not even his four turns of 360 degree could set him free. The dog held on to his arm until the handler caught hold of the smuggler. “A smuggler, however hard he tries, can’t go away from the dog,” said Dr Nag in praise of the champion Guard Dog Veeru.

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