36 Indian army dogs including 24 Labradors and 12 German Shepherds, will be seen marching down Rajpath on Republic Day this year. India Army’s dog squad from Remount and Veterinary Corps (RVC) Centre and School in Meerut is back after 26 years to participate in the prestigious parade once again.
Over the last four months, the best Indian Army dogs were selected and made to practice with their handlers.
Picture for representation. Source: Facebook
There are about 1,200 dogs in Indian Army and they help in operations like sniffing explosives, avalanche rescue, counter insurgency, counter terrorism, and more.
“They share the burden of operations, especially when it comes to duties like counter insurgency/counter terrorism (CI/CT). So we thought it is time they share the spotlight too,” a senior army officer told India Today.
While the selection procedure for other marching contingents depends only on their marching skills, it is entirely different for the dogs. Their selection is based on the how well a personnel can control his dog, because dog behaviour matters the most for a successful performance.
According to Captain Anurag Boruah from RVC, they have been practising three times a day since the last four months. They have also been trying to imitate the environment that they will find at Rajpath, so that the dogs do not panic because of the noise there.
“The lesson we draw from our experience with these dogs is that if you befriend them well they whether it is the parade or a life-threatening mission, they will never let you down,” said Amrendra Kumar, the trainer who handles a German Shepherd named Kako.
The army maintains a file on each dog that is a part of the force. Every dog has a career profile based on its performance during operations. These files also help determine the age of retirement for the dog. After the age of eight, the dogs are sent for a refresher course every six months, and they are trained again. If trainers see that age has started affecting the performance of the dog, it retires. Since the last three months, the army is also running an old age home for its retired dogs in Meerut.
The war dog training school was started in Meerut on March 1, 1960. Dogs here receive training on specialized jobs like explosive detection, mine detection, tracking, guarding etc. The Army generally uses Labradors, German Shepherds and Belgian Shepherds, depending on the place of service.