The Heartwarming Stories Of 11 Of History’s Most Loyal Canine Companions

Published November 28, 2023
Updated November 29, 2023

Zanjeer, The Indian Bomb-Sniffing Dog Who Saved Countless Lives

Zanjeer The Dog

Zanjeer, the bomb-sniffing dog who saved countless lives over the course of his career.

Like Balto, the next famous dog on our list was a national hero. During his career with the Mumbai Police Bomb Detection Squad, Zanjeer the Labrador Retriever helped detect guns, over 240 bombs, 600 detonators, 250 hand grenades, 7,340 pounds of the explosive RDX, and 6,000 rounds of ammunition.

The chief of the unit, Nandkumar Choughule, later said that Zanjeer was “god sent.” And at no time was this more true than during the harrowing 1993 terrorist bombings in Mumbai.

In December 1992, the same month that one-year-old Zanjeer started working for the Mumbai Bomb Squad, a right-wing Hindu organization tore down the sacred Babri Masjid mosque in Ayodhya, India. The destruction of the mosque triggered riots and resulted in the deaths of as many as 2,000 people.

Babri Masjid Mosque

Public DomainThe Babri Masjid mosque photographed in the 19th century.

In response, an underworld Muslim crime syndicate known as D-Company started planning bombings across Mumbai. Zanjeer swiftly got to work with his human and canine colleagues to track down the explosives. With his three-bark alert, Zanjeer notified his handlers of rifles, pistols, grenades, suitcase bombs, RDX explosives, and gelatin sticks. Though the 1993 Mumbai bombings took hundreds of victims, Zanjeer’s work saved countless lives.

The dogged investigator continued his work even after the threat in Mumbai had waned. Zanjeer maintained his job as a bomb-sniffing dog over the next several years and detected hundreds more weapons.

When Zanjeer died at the age of eight after a struggle with an illness that may have been bone cancer or lung failure, his human handlers were determined to give him a hero’s sendoff.

“Policemen who die a martyr’s death get accolades, but canine members go unnoticed,” local labor leader Dilip Mohite told Mid-Day.

The bomb-sniffing dog was thus honored with a state funeral in recognition of the lives he’d saved.

Kaleena Fraga
A staff writer for All That's Interesting, Kaleena Fraga has also had her work featured in The Washington Post and Gastro Obscura, and she published a book on the Seattle food scene for the Eat Like A Local series. She graduated from Oberlin College, where she earned a dual degree in American History and French.
Jaclyn Anglis
Jaclyn is the senior managing editor at All That's Interesting. She holds a Master's degree in journalism from the City University of New York and a Bachelor's degree in English writing and history (double major) from DePauw University. She is interested in American history, true crime, modern history, pop culture, and science.