Just like their human handlers, retirement is an inevitable part of any police dog’s life. But what happens to them when they retire?

This was something that Bai Yan, a 55-year-old policeman from Hangzhou, was concerned about. So, six years ago he opened a police dog retirement center, complete with a small sunny lot near the entrance to bury the dogs.

His center is now home to 14 retired police dogs.

Bai and his dogs featured in a video shared on miaopai.com, a video-sharing service, in December. The video had been viewed more than 15 million times as of Monday night. Many people were moved by Bai’s selfless commitment to the dogs.

“Police dogs die earlier than pets. They have worked their whole life and I want them to spend their remaining years in comfort,” said Bai, who is due to retire soon, too.

GOLDEN YEARS NOT DOG DAYS

Bai wakes up every morning before sunrise to see to his pack. The day starts with him feeding the dogs a hearty breakfast of dog food, calcium tablets, meat and eggs. Then its time for exercise.

“I continue to do training exercises with the dogs, as it has been a part of their routine all their lives. Even though they are retired whenever I shout commands, I can see excitement in their eyes,” said Bai.

“Come to the bridge!”

On hearing this command, Xingzai, a female German shepherd, deftly springs onto a single-plank bridge, which is about a meter off the ground.

“Good girl.” Bai said as he stroked her head and tenderly pinched her left ear, the tip of which had been bitten off by a criminal years ago. Despite the assault, she caught the man.

In her seven years of service, she has helped police officers in more than 100 criminal cases.

German shepherds are the most common breed used by the police, but Labrador Retrievers and Belgian Malinois are also chosen to assist patrols and as bomb and drug sniffer dogs.

Puppies usually start their training at around eight months, and they will work until they are seven or eight.

“For more than a decade I have worked with service dogs, they are like members of my family,” he said.

In order to provide his four-legged family members with the best of care, Bai has created special massage techniques and studied dog behavior and psychology.

BOND BEYOND GRAVE

Bai joined the police in 1983 after retiring from military service. In 2004, his police station were given two dogs by their local government.

As he was deputy chief of the police station at the time, Bai sent two young officers to learn how to train the dogs. Out of curiosity, however, he participated in the classes and found he had a natural flair for dog handling.

During the first week of their jobs, the dogs helped police officers to catch a thief.

“They are so smart and agile. They are an invaluable addition to our team,” said Bai.

After that, more police dogs joined his team. “At one time we had 26,” Bai said.

Little tiger, Silver fox, Prince, Doudou …” he said, starting to list the name of the dogs he has cared for and worked with. Of all of them, Carsey, he said, was his favorite and he often thinks of him when he passes by his grave at the entrance to the center.

Around the end of 2012, Bai and Carsey were called in to help with a manhunt for a suspected burglar.

The suspect had managed to evade detention multiple times, so Carsey was called in to sniff him out.

“All he needed was a piece of the suspect’s clothing — in this case it was a shoe — and Carsey led us to the man within 20 minutes,” Bai recalled.

Carsey died in 2015 after being injured while on duty.

“Working together, police dogs and their handlers are brothers. The bond goes beyond the grave,” he said.

Carsey was involved in more than 200 cases during his short life.

It costs Bai more than 1,000 yuan (146 U.S. dollars) per dog every month to provide them with food, care and shelter. But he has refused requests by people to adopt his dogs or donate to the center.

“I want to grow old with them,” Bai said, “when they sit beside me or run in the yard, they still look young, and so do I.” Enditem

Source: Xinhua/NewsGhana.com.gh

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