How would you like to get your dog professionally trained at a park full of hurdles to jump over, tunnels to crawl under and ramps to climb up and down? The vet university at Belgachia is introducing a number of facilities, foremost of which is training.
Not only is the facility at West Bengal University of Animal and Fishery Sciences possibly the city’s largest dog park, but the training would also be imparted by a celebrated teacher. The trainer Swapan Dey has been in the Special Protection Group (SPG) and was responsible for the security of Prime Ministers Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Manmohan Singh and Narendra Modi.
“I was in the BSF, on SPG deputation, and also learnt to train dogs for explosive detection at the National Training Centre for Dogs in Gwalior. I retired in 2017 and have now joined here,” says Dey. Due to security reasons, he is not allowed to share his experience of working for the Prime Ministers but he says professional dog squads generally use Labradors, German Shepherd Dogs, Cocker Spaniels, Beagles and Golden Retrievers.
“These dogs are trained to be trackers, guard or patrol dogs, used to detect explosives, narcotics or at relief and rescue operations. Pet dogs of civilians, of course, wouldn’t need this degree of specialisation,” he says.
For pet dogs, training would start at the age of six to 12 months and be spread across two phases of 75 days each (at a price of Rs 5,000 for each phase). Classes would be held for two hours twice a week and winter time slots are either 8 to 10am or 4 to 6pm. “It’s best if owners bring the pets themselves so they can be taught to do follow-ups at home,” says Dey.
The first 40 minutes would be agility training around the park using hurdles, rings, heights etc. so as to eliminate all kinds of fears in the students. After a 10-minute break, there would be an obedience session. In the first phase of training, the dog would be taught house manners, heeling (walking with the owner), commands like sit, stay etc. In the latter phase, they would learn the canine salute by bowing, retrieving items, refusing food from strangers etc. Details are available on the website http://wbuafscl.ac.in/
Take home a pup
The university has also started a pet-breeding programme, whereby healthy puppies, from good lineage will be bred and sold. At present there are three two month-old Labs — two black males and one fawn female — ready to find homes. They would be sold at Rs 15,000.
“We want the first puppies to go to the railway police force (RPF) or some similar government agency,” said a vet at the hospital. “These departments bring their dogs to us and we frequently have to give the dog unfit certificates as they have health issues caused by in-breeding or other unethical and unscientific practises of the breeders,” he says, mentioning a celebrated RPF sniffer dog that had to be retired prematurely due to hip joint problems. “Even if this dog was great at detecting explosives, he wouldn’t be able to jump on and off trains.”
Vice-chancellor Purnendu Biswas says now that they have established themselves as an educational institute, they want to branch out and provide services related to their core area of expertise. “We want to cater to the common man, who may love dogs but cannot afford Rs 25,000 to buy a puppy,” says Biswas. “Unethical breeders charge more and give inferior quality pups. They also wean off the pups from the mother before 60 days to sell them off, depriving them of mother’s milk that protects best against health issues.”
Biswas adds that their 24-hour trauma centre will resume soon and that a new hospital building housing all their facilities is almost ready too.
They will also open a creche with 33 kennels. “We are calling it a dog hotel. It will have AC and non-AC rooms, provide food as per the owner’s instructions… we are mulling over building a dog swimming pool too,” says Biswas. “Cities like Chennai and Bangalore are way ahead in terms of services for pets. Calcutta has to catch up.”
Source: The Telegraph