As part of their training, five dogs — Bullet, Blackie, Jackie, Oscar, and Jennie — at the Railway Protection Force (RPF) kennel in Perambur, climb up and down a vertical ladder covered with fencing wires. What is peculiar about them is that they are a cross-breed between the Kashmiri Bakharwal and the Dutch Shepherd, both known for their fearlessness, intelligence, and guarding instincts.
They will soon join the RPF in Kashmir on a trial basis. “They will be used for multitasking. This includes remaining alert, assault, and barrack guarding,” said S. Louis Amuthan, Deputy Chief Security Commissioner of the RPF, who brought the Bakharwal breed, the mother of these dogs, from Kashmir. He said Arunkumar, the Director-General of the RPF, and IG Veerandrakumar were keen on inducting local breeds into the RPF.
While many pure-bred native Indian dogs have already joined the Indian Army and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Mr. Amuthan decided to experiment with the Bakharwal dogs as he had an opportunity to watch the breed in close quarters during his tenure in Kashmir.
“Bakharwal dogs are kept by the Bakharwal nomadic tribes of Kashmir and they are a very independent and fearless breed. The tribe will not part with their dogs, but I was able to get one from an employee of the RPF,” said Mr. Amuthan. Brought up purely on vegetarian food, the Shepherd dogs have a low breeding capacity. They can easily scale a wall and they were used as frontline dogs by the British during the War of Independence in 1857.
On the decline
“Their population, however, is on the decline. Many of them were killed by Kashmiri militants as they proved a nuisance to their secret activities in the Valley. Once they sense an outsider, they will bark continuously and in the process alert everyone,” said Mr. Amuthan.
Mr. Amuthan decided to mate the female dog with a Dutch Shepherd, and she gave birth to nine puppies in February 2020. Five of them are now being trained at Perambur.
“We found that the puppies have inherited trainable qualities. We are waiting for the dog handlers from Kashmir. Soon, they will join the RPF in Kashmir on a trial basis,” he said. Unlike their mother, the five dogs are given non-vegetarian food.