In a few days, the curtain will come down on an illustrious 10-year career. As officers gather to toast him, the senior-most member of a team entrusted with your safety at Indira Gandhi International Airport will walk away — with a wag of his tail.
Amar, a black Labrador, was the first sniffer dog at Delhi’s IGI airport. HT Photo
It could all have panned out differently for Amar, a black Labrador. If he had joined the army, he might have won commendations from Generals. Or fate could have let him grow to portliness as a domestic pet.
But he was destined to make history. He was just one year old in 2003 when he became the first dog in airport security in Delhi. Over the next decade he did his job well enough to inspire his employers, the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), to expand the team to 15 — all but one of them Labradors like himself.
It has been an intense decade at the airport, with cases of unclaimed baggage reported almost every hour, and bomb hoaxes keeping a stretched security apparatus perennially on alert.
"We used to depend on him whenever we got a bomb call. We never touched an unclaimed piece of baggage without Amar or the other dogs sniffing it first. Amar's track record has been superb. If he gave a negative signal, it was almost 80% certain that there was no threat," said a senior CISF official.
There was compensation for his labours. A four-hour shift earned him a generous 24 hours off. He also got a weekly holiday, often spent playing dog sports at a facility in Mahipalpur.
Retired bliss, in the form of meals of chicken and an adoring caretaker, beckons.
The final decision rests with the CISF board but officials say they are likely to give Amar's custody to his handler. As per the rules, Amar will be auctioned off and the handler will have to pay to buy him. "Since the handler is from the same force and is emotionally attached to Amar, we will give him a discount," said the official.
"Amar loves chicken so we have decided we will bear the cost of his food as a post-retirement benefit," he added.
A send-off is planned, with senior officials in attendance. And then the dog with the expert sniff will walk off into the sunset, snout held high.