Brock the police puppy handled himself well under pressure on Wednesday, as the public and media gathered to glimpse the fuzzy bundle of energy named after slain RCMP officer Brock Myrol.
As cameras clicked around him, the two-month-old German shepherd pup looked around quizzically, but remained calm. Eventually he nuzzled Aidan Schafer, 8, the Grade 3 student who named him.
Aidan was one of hundreds of students who submitted names starting with B for new potential police dogs in training, but was among only 10 winners selected from across Canada this year.
The Mattie McCullough Elementary student explained that he walks by a photograph of Const. Brock Myrol at his school every day, and it got him thinking about the police officer’s ultimate sacrifice. He thought naming a police dog Brock would be a great way of honouring a fallen hero.
“I’m very proud of Aidan. That’s just the way he is — he’s a thinker,” said his mom Sandra Schafer, who added her sensitive son “came up with this from his heart.”
The Red Deer student was awarded with an RCMP baseball hat, a photo of the pup, and a stuffed version of a police dog. But perhaps more importantly, he won appreciation from the Myrol family, who said they were touched by this remembrance, while attending an official presentation at the RCMP dog training facility south of Innisfail.
Colleen Myrol said her son Brock never got to work with police dogs, since he’d only been on the job for three weeks before his death. But Brock often praised the work done by police dog units and would have appreciated the honour.
“We’re thrilled and honoured that a young man of this age would name a police dog for Brock, because young people’s recognition of the police force is huge,” said Colleen, who attended the ceremony and police dog demonstration with her husband Keith, their daughter, and other relatives.
Brock Myrol was slain near Mayerthorpe on March. 3, 2005, along with RCMP Constables Peter Schiemann, Anthony Gordon and Leo Johnston. The four officers were shot by police-hater James Roszko as they were executing a property seizure on his farm. Rozsko then killed himself.
It was the worst one-day loss of life for the RCMP in a century.
Cpl. Alex Mann called Aidan’s name choice very appropriate and also touching, because it shows that a young person appreciates the role of police officers in the community. He was also happy to see that Aidan, like Brock Myrol, hails from Red Deer.
Brock the puppy will not be treated as a pet as he grows, but in a manner that befits a dog destined for a “successful working life,” said Mann.
RCMP dog trainers will watch for traits such as curiosity and keen-ness, which will come out in simple activities, such Brock’s willingness to chase a ball.
Mann said dogs without the right personality type for police work can still fill other important roles, such as becoming search dogs.
But if Brock does pass muster, his police dog training will begin at about 17 months.
A host of people at Wednesday’s ceremony — including Aidan, his mom and Colleen Myrol — were rooting for Brock and hoping he makes it.