New Delhi: While in service they saved countless lives by sniffing out terror with zero error and now retired combat canines of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) are being deployed as “therapy dogs” to assist in the recuperation of those undergoing medical treatment.Also Read - Pet Love: Andhra Man Erects Bronze Statue of His Late Dog on 5th Death Anniversary | See Pics

Rambo, Pooja, Tom, Rani, Machali, Helen, Reena, Nisha, Tom and Gravey are among 20 retired K9 heroes who have started their “second innings” as therapy dogs for offering support to specially challenged children and patients at ITBP hospitals Over the past five months these retired K9 commandos have been visiting ITBP hospitals and have learnt to give soothing emotional support to patients for whom the dogs offer a welcome break from the dreary hospital monotony.

These dogs interact with patients in general wards, those on terminal illnesses, psychiatric patients and also with children with special needs, to spread joy. A retirement home has also been established for these K9s at National Training Centre for Dogs (NTCD) at Bhanu near Panchkula, Haryana.

With such a move, ITBP has now become the “first force in India” that has found a very useful role for retired K9 heroes. Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has also given its nod to provide almost more than half of ration and other necessary facilities to care for these canines, who have given the best of their years to the nation, from central government’s sanctioned fund as like other dogs employed in Central Armed Police Forces (CAPF). The MHA has authorised pensions (rations) to these dogs 70 per cent of their basic pay (ration).

In a letter to the MHA in June this year, the ITBP informed about the arrival of more such retired dogs. “ITBP has unleashed the healing power of our retired K9 to provide emotional support to patients and special children,” ITBP Director General SS Deswal told ANI.

“Our retired hero dogs are housed at the ITBP K9 retirement home at NTCD at Bhanu near Panchkula.” Expressed pride on ITBP’s retired K9 heroes ITBP DIG (Vet) Sudhakar Natarajan told ANI, “We are fully committed to looking after our veteran K9s heroes who have served the nation, and now even in their retired life they are contributing as therapy dogs to give emotional support to patients and special children.”

“Since our dogs are highly trained and socialised, they are being used as a supportive therapy manage autism and other spectral disorders in children. These children connect with our furry darlings directly at the organic emotional level , that is not the case with human to human interaction, where expectations are involved.” It has been proved by research that the very act of petting and having nonverbal, no strings attached, interacting with a dog increases the dopamine level, reduces stress hormones; and improves muscular coordination and hyperactivity in special kids, said Natarajan.

ITBP Inspector General Ishwar Singh Duhan expressed his happiness over the contribution of BTC Bhanu in initiating the use of therapy dogs, for the first time amongst all forces, in compliance to the guidelines of MHA. The Officer in charge is Deputy Commandant Hitesh Kumar, who is a veterinarian and AAT (Animal Assisted Therapy) professional is deeply involved in the welfare of all retired dogs and their use as therapy dogs. His contribution is wholesome.