Thunderstorm and Sofia are on top of the world. The seven-year-old horse and the three-year-old dog, respectively, will receive the most delicious lifetime achievement award imaginable on Monday, for their work in the Indo-Tibetan Border Police.
The Director General of ITBP Krishna Chaudhary will honour Thunderstorm with an AT (Animal Transport) medal and Sofia with the ITBP K9 (Canine) medal during the force’s 55th Raising Day Parade at their 39th battalion campus in Surajpur, Greater Noida. “Thunderstorm will now be pampered with a lifetime supply of chocolates and will be allowed to graze all he wants. Sofia will be awarded with a lifetime supply of Hide (synthetic) bones and can indulge in playing all the time,” said a senior ITBP official.
The official said Thunderstorm has earned seven medals in the past 12 months while Sofia has earned a gold medal – possibly the first animals in India to be honoured while alive and still in service.
“Thunderstorm has been outstanding in his duties as he has been posted at locations where it is impossible for an officer to step out. At locations where the temperatures are below -5 degrees celsius, Thunderbolt has led a troupe of horses, mules and ponies to take and bring back arms, ammunition and ration from one camp to another,” said the senior ITBP official. He added that Thunderstorm has a “sixth sense” and never gets lost in the way.
Sofia has been posted in Maoist-affected areas of Chattisgarh and has saved a large number of people from ambush. “Sofia has also been played a pivotal role in securing US president Barack Obama and French Prime Minister Manuel Valls when they visited the country. She has also been a part of operation Golden Nose (securing the Parliament) and operation Lal Quila (securing Red Fort),” the official said.
He added that the honour is not only a reward for the animals but also the veterinary cadre of the force who have trained the animals with love and precision.
“For our animals, service is like a game and they enjoy it. Rather than opting for service-reward strategy we have opted for love strategy and debunked the archaic ways of training our animals. We go by the two slogans — ‘Ghoda Bhagwan, Hum Balwan’ (Horse is god, we are strong) and ‘Mera dog, meri jaan, paltan ki shaa’n (My dog is my life and the troupe’s pride),” he said.