New Delhi: Sheru and Dolly and 48 of their mates in the Delhi Police dog squad are at it as hard as any of the other 45,000 security personnel in the national capital to ensure an incident-free Republic Day parade at which US President Barack Obama will be the chief guest.
The canines, aged between 3-4 years, have been working round-the-clock for the past three days with Delhi Police officers, checking all official buildings and other premises in the high-security areas around the entire three km parade route on Rajpath.
With their strong olfactory senses, these German Shepherds will be doing their best running here and there in the vicinity of the verdant Rajpath with their handlers on Jan 26 morning when President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Obama and his wife Michelle and other VVIPs will be watching the Republic Day parade which showcases India's military might and rich cultural diversity.
Delhi Police Spokesperson Rajan Bhagat, told IANS, "All the 50 dogs with one trainer each will be stationed at nearby specific locations of Rajpath from early Jan 26 morning."
A Delhi Police dog handler, on condition of anonymity, said the dogs on duty will be allowed to relax only after the end of 90-minute parade.
"We give at least 20 minutes rest to all the dogs after every hour of work," Bhagat told IANS.
Another handler said that these dogs are put through their paces at Tekanpur near Gwalior, a major training hub of the paramilitary forces. "The dogs for tracking explosive are trained for eight to nine months and the others for six months," Bhagat said
The Delhi Police dog squad is made up of four breeds - German Shepherds, Cocker Spaniels, Dobermans and Labradors.
The unit's offices are located in the Crime Branch premises in Chanakyapuri, R.K. Puram, Kalyanpuri and Janakpuri, apart from the main unit in Model Town.
The team includes 32 dogs especially trained for detecting explosives and four who have been trained to catch a scent and then trail it. Two others are specially trained to detect narcotic substances and the others couple for rescue and relief operations, especially in situations like building collapses.
Subject to medical fitness, a dog can work in the force till the age of eight. Their key attribute of exceptional olfactory sense means they help the police in detecting substances such as contraband and explosives besides tracking down criminals.
In 2012, the squad responded to 12,842 calls, including 179 tracking calls. Its role assumes significance during festivals and VVIP functions or visits. At times, dogs are also provided to the Delhi Police by the paramilitary forces.