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ITBP’s retired dogs of K-9 squad heal mental scars of children and other patients

A retired ITBP K9 dog visiting a patient at the hospital (Pic: Courtesy tribuneindia.com)

While in service, these four-legged adorning creatures served the nation by detecting explosives, drugs and apprehending the country's enemies! Today after retirement, too, these dogs are more than willing to help us as “therapy dogs” – to help those recuperating after medical treatment.

Twenty such wonderful canines, including Rambo, Pooja, Tom, Rani, Machali, Helen, Reena, Nisha, Tom and Gravey are among 20 retired K9 heroes who have started their "second innings", according to news agency despatch ANI. This innings is no lesser than their earlier one, since as therapy dogs they will assist specially challenged kids as well as patients at Indo-Tibetan Border Police hospitals.

These retired ITBP K9 “personnel” have in the last five months been visiting hospitals for and by ITBP for their staff. Besides being a pleasant distraction for the patients they also provide them a a soothing much-needed emotional support.

In the hospitals, these animals are allowed to meet patients admitted in the general wards apart from those who are suffering terminal illness, having psychiatric issues and children with special needs, for all of whom they bring joy and love.

By usefully deploying them, ITBP has become India’s first force to have found a very useful role for them.

The ITBP Director-General SS Deswal told the news agency: "ITBP has unleashed the healing power of our retired K9 to provide emotional support to patients and special children.”

Elaborating on the new role of K9 animals, Sudhakar Natarajan, the ITBP DIG (Vet) Sudhakar Natarajan said: "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."

Natarajan added that research has shown that the act of petting and having nonverbal, no strings attached, interaction with a dog increases the dopamine level, reduces stress hormones; and improves muscular coordination and hyperactivity in special kids, according to the news agency.