When most boys turn seven, they want presents like a new bike or some video games. But Cole Shaback is not like most six-year-olds. Instead of getting presents, he decided to give one: a new dog for the Woodbury Police Department.
“I just thought the police could use another dog,” said nonchalant Cole, a second-grader at Valley Crossing Community School in Minnesota.
Cole was inspired when a police dog was brought to his school for a demonstration. The officer and handler told the kids how police dogs pursue criminals, and with their sensitive sniffers are able to detect drugs and find missing children.
The police department was soon going to be purchasing an additional dog. Thanks to Cole, they were able to get two.
Back in November of 2011, Cole was turning seven. He decided to ask people that might be giving him gifts, to offer donations instead.
“I kind of asked them for the money and I told them the reason,” said Cole. “They thought it was kind of cool.”
He was able to collect $250. It was a generous gift, but much more is needed for highly-trained police dogs. But Woodbury resident Sharon Glasrud was so touched by what Cole did, she donated a whopping $20,000.
“I was very proud,” mom Heidi said of her son’s decision.
“It’s a really cool thing for a kid to make that adult decision,” said officer Jeff Gottstein. “I just think that’s pretty incredible.”
Cole’s family has a Shih Tzu-Bichon Frise mix named Hudson. He enjoys playing with the dog and teaching it tricks. He also really likes big dogs, like the ones the police department now has.
The two new dogs, Nova and Bosco, arrived in February from Slovakia, which is renowned as a source of good police dogs. The dogs are trained in detection and “bite work,” which is only about five percent of their training, and a necessary evil. Fortunately, it is not often the dogs must become aggressive with a fleeing suspect. But the dogs still must be friendly with strangers who would like to pet them.
“You may have the task of handling a robbery suspect, then doing a demo at a school that afternoon,” said officer Brian Cline.
Bosco and Nova have just finished their training, and according to Cline, will now be patrol-ready.
When asked what Cole is planning to do for his next birthday, he responded, “At Feed My Starving Children.” He is asking guests to help put together meals that the nonprofit organization sends to people around the world. The charity gene must run in the family, or just be a result of some brilliant parenting; Cole’s sister Maddie used her seventh birthday to assemble kits for Haiti after it was decimated by the 2010 earthquake.