Dogs in high-altitude areas of Jammu and Kashmir's Gulmarg, may be just strays for locals and the army establishment, but for soldiers, who patrol the LoC, the canines are not only their companions, but also their "early warning system".
Snow or sun, they are always with the men patrolling the Line of Control (LoC), said a soldier.
Temperatures in Gulmarg can drop to minus 10 degrees Celsius during the winters, and harsh winds and several feet of snow makes patrolling a daunting task, but soldiers said the dogs are always there to accompany them and their barks warn them of the dangers ahead.
"If there is anything untoward ahead, they act as an early warning system for us. They are very helpful to us," the soldier said as a small pack of dogs walked ahead of him and his group going for a ski-patrol of the forward area along the LoC with Pakistan.
"These dogs are with us today, tomorrow they will be with the next unit (which will be posted in the area)," he said Irrespective of the weather condition, these canines lead the way for soldiers and sometime follow them back to their camps.
The soldiers care for these canines as if they were a part of their families, an officer said.
In high-altitude areas, covered by snow and accessible only by foot, soldiers share their limited supplies of biscuits and water with the canines, highlighting the nature and strength of their bond, he said.
Major General Ajay Chandpuria, General Officer Commanding of the Army's 19 Infantry Division, said there was nothing unusual in the friendship between the soldiers and the canines.
"Dogs are supposed to be man's best friend and that's true especially in winter. When the situation gets adverse and when there is a lot of snow, they are the best companions in winters," Maj Gen Chandpuria said.
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