'Dogs give happiness no one else can'

'Dogs give happiness no one else can'
Together with his dog, Mr Kalimuthu Thiagarajan helped pushed back the crowd of around 30,000 people outside the National Stadium in 1974.
PHOTO: The New Paper

Together with his dog, Mr Kalimuthu Thiagarajan helped pushed back the crowd of around 30,000 people outside the National Stadium in 1974.

Mr Thiagarajan, 70, was a Senior Station Inspector and served in the Police K-9 Unit, formerly known as the Police Dog Unit (PDU), for 40 years, from 1969 to 2009.

That 1974 Malaysia Cup match was memorable, he said. Said Mr Thiagarajan: “There were 30,000 gatecrashers outside the National Stadium to watch the first Malaysia Cup game of Singapore versus Penang and the police were overwhelmed.”

That was the first time police dogs were deployed for crowd control, said the retiree. He was with three police dog handlers and their dogs. He said: “We stationed only four dogs and the people were instantly scared.”

“I let my german shepherd go after one fellow who came too close and he screamed.”

Mr Thiagarajan was sent to another match with a dog to prevent people from jumping onto the pitch.

GOAL

He said: “Whenever we scored a goal, you could see around 100 guys jumping down onto the field to hug the players.

“But when I walked with my great dane, no one jumped.” In 1969, the PDU had only 15 men in the unit and around 19 dogs, said Mr Thiagarajan.

Some dogs were donated by the public and they were mostly german shepherds.

As of last month, the K-9 Unit has more than 250 dogs with breeds like german shepherds, labradors and malinois in the mix.

For Mr Thiagarajan, dogs provide a special kind of joy.

“When dogs greet you, no human can give you this type of happiness. Even children can’t give you this happiness.”

He handled police dogs for 10 years before becoming a trainer.

One of his most memorable assignments was when he was chasing illegal Indonesian immigrants in Jurong, with his first dog, Prince.

Both fell into a pond that contained pig faeces. Prince leapt out of the pond and bit the suspect, who was then arrested.

Mr Thiagarajan, who is married and has a son, visits the K-9 Unit often and misses the action. He said: “I still dream of it. I had a beautiful life.

I have never regretted any part of it.”


This article was first published on August 1, 2015.
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