They have fancy names. They have their task cut out and are gradually learning the tricks of the sharpest of sniffer dogs who are out on Operation Mode. Going through rigorous drills they are not the Belgian Melanois, who sniffed out Osama Bin Laden from his hideout at Abbottabad or known canines in the circuit like German Shepherds or Labrador Retrievers, but these are the stray ones who are now getting back their much needed due as canines. The first stray dogs to join that elite league of search and rescue teams are two wonder pups namely Blaze and Tiger. They recently joined as trainee members of the National Disaster Response Force’s (NDRF) dog squad. The stray is now being trained up so that they can be used in future operations.
The new experiment with the stray has been undertaken by the NDRF’s eighth battalion as a unique experiment. As on the date of story filing, the battalion has four stray dogs. They were adopted from its Govindpuram campus in Ghaziabad. Only 17 months old, both are puppies, born nearly 50 days ago.The NDRF Officials have been quoted as saying that the initiative is a call to action of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “vocal for local” concept.
The commandant of the eighth NDRF Battalion, PK Tiwary has told the media – “We have started this new experiment. So far, we were involved in training German Shepherds and Labradors as part of the dog squads. Training strays is a bit difficult but are doing well,” He expressed his innate feelings at Govindpuram in Ghaziabad.
The advantage as far as the strays are concerned the NDRF officials explain is that they need a lesser amount of caring and grooming. The battalion reportedly has 20 well-trained dogs and Blaze and Tiger will join after they successfully undergo training. So far they have been able to complete 40 weeks of training. Very soon they will be teaming up with elite dog species like German Shepherds and Labradors. Trainers widely quoted suggest that the toughest part of the training exercise is how desis would adapt with German Shepherds and Labrador Retrievers.
To make sure that the two stray dogs do not feel left out, Blaze and Tiger have separate facilities like a kennel, training area and handlers. A tough regimen of the dogs consist of a morning training routine, physical exercises, obstacle courses and learning Operational manoeuvres.
The disadvantage of strays remains that they are agile and they take time to concentrate. The very highly respected battalion continues to command respect for its dog squad for its pivotal role during the 2011 tsunami rescue operations in Japan, 2015 earthquake in Nepal and during multiple missions pan India. Locally they have also worked in challenging zones like Akash Nagar building collapse in Ghaziabad and Shaberi building collapse incident in Gautam Buddha Nagar district.