A stray pup, rescued by cops from the streets of Kolkata one-and-a-half years ago and named Asha by her rescuers, is living up to its name. She is set to join her more “pedigreed” peers — German Shepherds and Labradors — in the West Bengal Police’s dog squad, in the process becoming the first street mongrel to break this glass ceiling in Bengal.
Two cops on their rounds had found the pup, trying to escape from stone-pelting urchins, bleeding and yelping, from the streets near their Barrackpore campus. The cops drove the boys away and rescued her. The initial idea was to keep her as a pet but their boss, the then inspector-general (training) K Jayaraman, had other plans. He thought the stray could make it into the dog squad if provided proper training and so started Asha’s second innings.
One-and-a-half years later, she is now a fully trained member of the dog squad of the West Bengal Police Training Academy, Barrackpore, sharing space with her more storied German Shepherd and Labrador colleagues. Needless to say, her seniors in the force — the cops who have trained her and now handle her — are proud of their experiment and are ready to send Asha off to work.
“Asha has broken a glass ceiling of sorts. She is now the only trained stray in an official dog squad. We have been able to prove that street dogs are just as intelligent as any pedigreed dog and can be used as sniffers in detecting explosives and other similar work,” deputy inspector general of police Dipankar Bhattacharya said.
But even her trainers are pleasantly surprised at the smooth progress she has made and how she has held her own. Asha knew how to “heel” and walk alongside her keeper in a restrained manner — all ears for orders — within three months of joining the force. She had to be leashed during training in her initial days but was well-mannered enough to be taken off the leash soon, her trainers recalled.
“She could soon follow instructions to sit, salute, rest, lie down and roll over, just like the others, quite early,” deputy superintendent of police, Sajal Mandal, in-charge of all WBP dog squads, said. She actually did better than her pedigreed peers in the physical exercise category, jumping six feet high and crossing hurdles; most of her “colleagues” used to manage three feet. “She is also our fastest runner,” Mandal said.
Asha has now been trained for bomb detection along with the other dogs in the squad and her work has been “flawless”, detecting RDX, TNT and gelatine and detonating fuses with elan. “Training over, we will now have to introduce her to the force formally. We hope this experiment will enable us to induct more street dogs into the team,” Bhattacharya added.
Source: Times of India