It’s a dog’s life for members of the Central Industrial Security Force’s (CISF) dog squad. They no longer get to go out in groups, or play with each other; their workout sessions are now restricted to their kennels; and their diets have become fat-free .
On the flip side, they get to play fetch, and also spend more time with their humans.
Officers who handle these dogs said that instead of their routine workout, the dogs play fetch with a ball, in their kennel area itself, and practice their mandatory tactical training. Because they don’t report to work due to the lockdown, and are kept away from each other to ensure social distancing, their handlers are now spending more time with them so they do not get irritated or depressed. .
CISF secures airports, important government buildings, monuments and Delhi Metro in the Capital. The force’s unit in Shastri Park, which looks after the security of the Metro has a total of 62 dogs. These canine commandos are experts at sniffing out explosives, weapons, drugs and can even pin down a person if the situation demands. A majority of these are German Shepherds, Cocker Spaniels and Labradors.
“Earlier, all the dogs were taken out together every morning and evening to our parade ground within the Shastri Park unit premises for hours of exercise, tactical training on sniffing (out) explosives and for obedience training. But because of the social distancing norms, we now only bring one or two dogs at a time. Their movement is also restricted so we make them run within the premises, which is a vast open area with individual kennels built all around, facing the ground” said a CISF officer who asked not to be named.
Following their exercise sessions, the dogs get into training, sniffing out explosives and weapons. Senior commandant, CISF, Jitender Rana said because the dogs are away from work these days, as both Delhi Metro and the airport are shut, they might forget their training.
And with the dogs no longer invlved in rigorous physical work, their diet has been accordingly changed. “We avoid fat in their diet these days. Mutton, as its supply is also hit, has been stopped. To match their protein requirements, we have increased portions of eggs and milk in their diet. Chicken is served on some days,” said another officer who supervises the dog squad.
But to ensure that social distancing , and playing or exercising alone, doesn’t affect any of these dogs mentally, their handlers are now spending more time with them. “Our men wear masks, wash their hands and apply sanitisers before entering the kennel. They groom these dogs, give them a bath, feed them and spend time talking to and walking with them. In a way, our handlers are getting more time to bond with their dogs and at the same time the dogs, who are less active on the field, are also getting to interact with us in such isolated times,” the second officer said.