They are cute, yet aggressive. But don’t let the friendly appearance of these Indian Army dogs deceive you into believing that they are ordinary pets.
Trained to perfectly match their steps with the marching soldiers, the army’s canine warriors can tear an enemy apart in minutes if their handlers tell them to.
The army’s dog squad will participate in this year’s Republic Day parade after 26 long years.
"It is a matter of pride for us to participate in the Republic Day parade. It was a challenging task to train the dogs to march in step with the jawans and we achieved this after four months of training and practice," said an officer of the Remount Veterinary Corps (RVC).
The army organised an event on Tuesday where the dogs displayed their extraordinary skills.
"The participating contingent consists of 36 dogs and as many handlers. There are 24 Labradors and 12 German Shepherds, all males," he added.
The army dogs play a crucial role in combat situations. They are used for tracking explosives, detect mines and in rescue operations in insurgency-hit areas.
The RVC in Meerut breeds and trains the dogs. Currently, there are 1,200 canines under its watch.
The dogs are trained for different tasks based on their strengths. The army dogs and their trainers have won one Shaurya Chakra, six Sena Medals, 142 COAS Commendation Cards, six VCOAS Commendation Cards and 448 GOC-in-C Commendation Cards.
"Since German Shepherds are fierce and aggressive in nature, they are used for assault, guard, infantry and patrolling tasks. The Labradors, on the other hand, are very command specific and they are mainly used for mine detection, explosives detection and search and rescue operations," the officer said.
Labradors are good learners and can be taught many different things. They are also not as fierce as German Shepherds.
An army dog’s training starts when it turns six months old. It has to undergo early morning physical exercise, followed by the main training.
After the day’s training, the dogs are rested, groomed and fed. They are also checked for any injury or wounds.
The canines are first trained in basic obedience for 12 weeks after which the main training begins. The explosives and mine detection training is the most sensitive one and usually lasts for 36 weeks.
"We prefer Labradors for this as they are calm and intelligent. Even slight scratching by the dog can set off a hidden explosive. So the aggressive German Shepherd is not ideal for this. They are good for assault and guard," the officer said.
The dog squad handlers from the RVC are very excited about taking part in the prestigious Republic Day parade. And their canine companions, too, after a long and gruelling training, look eager to charm the audience on Rajpath.