Canines get ready to sniff out trouble at Games (With Images)

August 10th, 2010 - 5:45 pm ICT by IANS  

By Jaideep Sarin
Chandigarh, Aug 10 (IANS) Pinky, a one-year-old labrador, and her canine companions seem happy and relaxed as they stroll along Chandigarh’s popular Sukhna lake. But these sniffer dogs are actually on duty, as getting accustomed to crowds is part of their training for the Delhi Commonwealth Games.

The dog squad comprising 60 canines - labradors and German shepherds - is part of the lot that is being trained by the paramilitary Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) at its training centre in Bhanu, 30 km from Chandigarh, for the Oct 3-14 Games.

The canines have been given special permission to stroll and have a feel of the crowds at the Sukhna lake complex - otherwise an ‘out of bounds’ area for all dogs. Notice boards at the lake entrance clearly ban the entry of all dogs even though the presence of stray dogs is not uncommon in the area.

The lake itself gets hundreds of visitors daily, including scores of morning and evening walkers, many of them VIPs from this city.

ITBP commandant Ishwar Singh Duhan told IANS: “We have trained dogs earlier also. These dogs have come to us for training from Delhi. They are being provided basic training in explosives and bomb detection.

“This time, the dogs are being given training to deal with a situation in the event of a tragedy (during the Games). If there are people trapped under debris, the dogs have the training to sniff for those who are alive and also to help recover bodies. Trainers and experts from Switzerland and the US have trained our men.”

Visitors at the lake, in recent days, have been amused by the presence of the labradors and the German shepherds, which are proudly taken around by their ITBP handlers.

“It was a great sight to see these well-groomed dogs being taken around the lake by their handlers in uniform. The dogs are so friendly,” dog lovers Neelkamal Puri and Asit Jolly said.

“These sniffer dogs will be deployed for security duties during the Commonwealth Games. They are undergoing hard training these days. We bring them here (at the lake) to help them mingle with the crowds. We are observing their behaviour here. Also, they get to relax a bit here even though this also is part of their training,” an ITBP trooper, who is also a handler for the dogs, told IANS.

The troopers handling the dogs vouch for their skills.

“These dogs are very well-trained. They can sniff almost anything, from explosives to human beings buried under debris - anything except corruption!”, another trooper added alluding to the corruption allegation plaguing the Games organising committee.

The dogs too seem oblivious to the controversies, of course, and are faithfully learning the lessons they need to in the run-up to the Games.

(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at jaideep.s@ians.in)

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