Five-year-olds Olga and Olyesha, whom the ITBP officials call “warrior sisters”, gave birth to 17 puppies a month ago

As their mom chases a red ball, eight puppies excitedly follow her. While one of them spots the ball and wants to grab it, others try to get hold of their mom, and a few others are simply too lazy to even get up. They roll on the floor and cuddle. An ITBP (Indo Tibetan Border Police) personnel commands from a distance, “Olyesha, khelo khelo”, and she again starts running towards the ball. Since the last one month, this has been a regular scenario at the ITBP’s National Training Centre for Dogs (NTCD) at Bhanu in Panchkula, Haryana, which has recently welcomed 17 puppies of Belgian Malinois breed.

‘These 17 pups are a result of scientific matchmaking’ Five-year-old Olga and Olyesha, whom the ITBP officials call ‘warrior sisters’, gave birth to 17 puppies a month ago. Six-year-old Gala, who’s a counter-insurgency grid hero, is their father, and all three dogs had their tenure in Chhattisgarh, where ITBP is deployed. All three have an excellent service record, and that’s why ITBP officials are already calling these 17 pups mini combat soldiers.

The NTCD is under the command of DIG SB Sharma. DIG Sudhakar Natarajan, the senior-most K9/vet officer of the ITBP, says, “This is a superb result of a highly scientific breeding protocol of the ITBP, whereby the bloodline of the sire and dam had been analysed for five generations before the ‘matchmaking’. These pups are of the Malinois breed, which is fearless, tough, loyal to the core, with one of the finest olfactory capabilities.” SS Deswal, DG, ITBP, congratulated the entire veterinary team for the safe delivery and care of the pups.

ITBP Trains Dogs With The Approach ‘Only Rewards, No Punishment’

At the training centre, a notice board reads, “Train yourself before you attempt to train a dog.” Officials there tells us, “The handlers need to have high-level intelligence, should be sensitive and love dogs.”

The handler should also be able to read the subtle changes in the dog’s behaviour, like why and when it is lifting its ears or a sudden movement of its eyes. The handlers at the ITBP centre have to go through an aptitude test – dog handler aptitude battery test – to get their psychological profile. The ITBP trains dogs with the approach ‘only rewards, no punishment’. If a dog does good work, it is given a reward, and if it doesn’t, the reward is taken away. The dog gets the message, but it’s not punished if it fails to perform. Another major focus is to strengthen the bond between the dog and handler.

ITBP officials say, “The secret is love. Every day, 15 minutes are kept aside for a talk between dog and its handler when the latter sits with his dog and speaks to him, he just talks gibberish, pats him and it forms a bond between them.” They add, “The resonance between a handler and dog is very important. The better they understand each other, the more helpful it is in conducting an operation. The dog looks at its handler as the top dog and the handler treats the dog as a human being.”

Naamkaran Ceremony To Take Place Soon

For identification, while some puppies have a red collar, others have a yellow collar. None of these pups has been named yet, but the ITBP will be organising a Naamkaran ceremony soon. The officials say that names can’t be of more than two syllables and will be chosen accordingly.

IG Ishwar Singh Duhan, who is posted at the ITBP Headquarters in Delhi, says that other forces will be able to induct these pups after getting the approval from Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). When the pups turn three months old, they will introduced to their handlers. Their basic obedience training will begin once they are four months old, following which advance training will begin.