Grade 4 students at Outlook Elementary School had some furry visitors last week, the kind who also have special training to help bring down the bad guys.
Cpl. Grant Stebanuk of RCMP Saskatoon Police Dog Services visited OES on Thursday afternoon, June 21 to talk to students about his career and passion working with service dogs who carry out several tasks such as sniffing for drugs and contraband and taking down criminals.
The presentation was a special gift to the kids after Grade 4 student Saydee Hlagy was one of the winners in a contest to help name RCMP puppies that go on to hopefully become police dogs. Saydee’s dog is named Lucy, and for her contest entry, Hlagy received some special prizes such as a stuffed dog, a certificate, and even a photo of the puppy that she named.
Stebanuk brought two dogs to show the students. First up was Sherlock, a 12-year old German shepherd who retired in 2012 and is now Grant’s pet. The students took to Sherlock right away and so did he, walking around the gym and being very social with the kids. Grant noted that Sherlock lives with a few health ailments in his old age, including some spine trouble and deafness, but that doesn’t appear to deter him from physical activity and continuing to be a lively dog.
Next up was Relek, a 6-year old black German shepherd who is active on the police force. Admittedly, Grant said that Relek is more standoffish with people and typically ignores them because he tends to be in ‘work mode’ more often than not, but the kids were able to still pet him as Stebanuk stood close.
Grant explained to the kids how police dogs operate and how the training is done. Some dogs will enter into the police force at different ages, but the overall retirement age for them is roughly at 8 years or so. The work they do is beneficial and they’re seen as a very crucial investment in the fight against criminal activity and drugs; the numbers show that it can cost approximately $60,000 to train a dog for police work.
“They’re very good dogs; they’re obedient and very well-trained,” said Grant.
Stebanuk and Relek took a group photo with all the students to close out the presentation, no doubt a great keepsake to remember the time that both a two-legged and four-legged police officer visited OES.