Five army dogs --- all Labradors --- have been recognised for their heroics on the battlefield and awarded top honours for valour and devotion to duty, two army officers said on Friday asking not to be named.
While two of them helped the army track down hardcore terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir during counter-terrorism operations last year, the remaining three canines sniffed out deadly explosives in the country's North-east, their action saving scores of lives, said the first officer cited above.
The dogs were honoured with commendation cards for outstanding service on January 15, which is celebrated as Army Day, the second officer said.
Army dog Gem was awarded the Army chief's commendation card for leading a counter-terrorist squad from 55 Rashtriya Rifles to an injured terrorist by following his blood scent last May. The soldiers had killed two terrorists in a firefight earlier but the third one had managed to give them a slip. Gem's actions helped the squad kill the third terrorist.
Another Labrador, Rosh, was awarded the Northern Army commander's commendation card for his role in directing a squad from 44 Rashtriya Rifles to a terrorist hiding under wooden logs in a village in Kashmir after two of his accomplices were shot dead last May.
Rosh, who tracked him down by following his blood trail, was praised for his exemplary tracking abilities, diligence and courage.
Lalam, Mussi and Dambo earned their spurs in the North-east – the three Labradors were awarded the Eastern Army Commander's commendation cards on Army Day.
Lalam, a mine detection specialist, used her skills to help a squad from 5/5 Gorkha Rifles track down an improvised explosive device at a village in Assam's Baksa district on July 28, 2019, a day that militant outfit United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) observes as martyrs' day.
Mussi led a team from the Assam Rifles to explosives planted along National Highway 102 that links Imphal to Moreh in Manipur. Her citation says, "Correct indication and confirmation by the dog not only helped save valuable lives and property but also bears testimony to immense harmony between the dog and its trainer as well as the highest level of training standards of army dogs."
Dambo also guided an army squad to explosives planted by insurgents along the highway near Imphal last September. His citation praised his "innate sniffing capabilities, patience and professionalism."
All five dogs now proudly wear the commendation cards on their collars. The names of decorated dogs, their collars and unique service numbers are also put up on roll of honour boards at military units.
An army dog's daily diet consists of 500 gm meat, a litre of milk, 250 gm vegetables and two eggs. Besides food, the dogs love their half-hour massage twice a day.