The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Hoax-weary citizens & sniffers
- Grrrrr! A girl gang on prowl

Whoever sent the hoax mail on Tuesday evening threatening bomb blasts at seven places in the city had better not show their faces to Asha and Snoopy. Or Hashi and Ria. Or Tuli and Lipi.

This all-girl band — yes, Snoopy is a female, too — of six hasn’t had a moment of rest since their after-dinner doze was rudely interrupted around 7.30 that evening.

Asha and Snoopy rushed to Park Street, one of the places the email from mentioned as a target.

From one end of Park Street to another, they sniffed and sniffed, trotting around each parked car, going under, going up with the front legs resting against the vehicle’s side to check the roof.

If you’ve seen Park Street in the evening — cars parked bumper to bumper — you’ll know how much work that was for Asha, a veteran at nine, and Snoopy, who at six isn’t getting any younger.

Asha and Snoopy, both black Labradors, were taken to Calcutta’s hotspot because they’re the best in Calcutta police’s dog squad. And don’t call them sniffer dogs since your life depends on them. And because they are no ordinary sniffer dog.

Pradeep Pandey, the officer-in-charge of Calcutta police’s dog squad, explained: “They’re specially trained (at the National Training Centre for Dogs in Gwalior) to detect explosives and called explosive detector dogs.”

Since Tuesday, the six of them — four Labradors and two Golden Retrievers — have rushed from one sniffing assignment to another.

According to a rough estimate, there have been 18-20 such occasions, on top of the routine tasks they have to perform.

On Friday, for instance, there were bomb hoaxes at a bank on Lenin Sarani, on the Maidan where a briefcase was abandoned and at a private hospital at Ekbalpore.

Tuli, who doesn’t like working among crowds too much — neither does Lipi — was taken to the Maidan. Of course, nothing was found, as in all the other scares raised in the past few days.

But the work schedule has been scary enough for the six who have frequently missed their 6pm mealtime. All the rushing about tells on their nerves too, not to speak of digestion.

The diet has been changed to cope with the nature of work: a high-protein combine of beef and chicken while the carb, mainly rice, has been curbed. Less vegetables too.

Their minders are feeding them ghol, the Bengali equivalent of lassi, several times a day, which, as anyone whose mother has taken good care of them at exam time knows, keeps your stomach and head cool.

After a dog day’s work, they are cleaned up and given a hot compress to relax their tired limbs.

As they lie down at night, they must be chewing on the thought of getting their teeth into the hoax email sender. Grrrrr.

That goes for all of us.

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