In a first-of-its kind move, the Mudhol Hound, an Indian dog breed, is being inducted into the Indian Army for various services.
The Army for long has been using foreign breeds like Labradors and German Shepherds and the inclusion of a native breed is being cheered on by many.
Media reports state that at present six Mudhol Hounds are being trained by the Army's Remount and Veterinary Corps (RVC) centre in Meerut. They are expected to join the forces by December 2017 and are likely to be posted in Jammu & Kashmir.
It is a matter of pride and happiness for residents of Mudhol, in Bagalkot district of North Karnataka, after which the breed gets its name. It is because the canines, who will soon be part of the Indian Army, were sent to the RVC centre from this town last year.
Sangamesh Menasinakai writes for TOI that nearly 700 families in Mudhol "breed the hound for a livelihood and business prospects just seem to have taken a leap".
"This hound has the ability to run swiftly and sniff suspected items. It will definitely be helpful for Army personnel to track terrorists and explosives. As an indigenous dog, it's no less than foreign breeds like Labradors and Alsatians," Dr Mahesh Doddamani, head of Canine Research and Information Centre, told the publication.
A lean dog with long legs, the Mudhol Hound belongs to the family of sight hounds, meaning that it depends on its keen sense of sight to hunt and chase prey.
Although it is called the Mudhol Hound today, this is a recent name for the hunting dog. Writing for Deccan Herald, Arjunsinh Jadeja traces the history of the hound, which came to be called the Caravan Hound because of its use by traders on the famed Silk Route.
He says that traders who travelled between the Indian sub-continent, the Chinese empire, Persia and Arabia used Arabian or Afghan hunting dogs to protect their caravans of goods and themselves. The inter-breeding of these two breeds produced a breed that eventually began to be called the Caravani Hounds or Karavani Hounds.
Jadeja then says that Shivaji used these dogs in his army and during that period, they became known as Maratha hounds. After the British rule consolidated, these hounds were no longer used in battle, as the British had their own hunting dogs.
Later, it was the princely state of Mudhol under Raja Malojirao Ghorpade who revived the breed. Jadeja says that Ghorpade observed that the tribes living in and around the present-day north Karnataka and neighbouring Maharashtra bred these dogs and used them for hunting.
Today, the breed has a name of its own and has actually brought some prosperity to dog-breeders in Mudhol.