Woodbury police welcome 2 new K9s aboard
Tom Ehrenberg never had a dog growing up - or at any point in his life.
And then Bosco showed up.
Ehrenberg, a Woodbury police officer, joined Brian Cline as the two newest K-9 handlers for the force. Cline's dog, 7-month-old Nova, was delivered Feb. 11, just five days after Ehrenberg got to meet his dog, Bosco.
The arrival has marked a significant change in Ehrenber's life: new assignment, new member of the household.
"The learning curve is straight up," Ehrenberg said of the addition of 19-month-old Bosco to his family, which includes two children who have taken a quick liking to the dog.
"I'm no longer the favorite when I walk in the door," Ehrenberg joked.
He and Cline join officer Jason Posel on the department's K-9 unit. One of the dogs was added to fill the retirement of officer Jeff Gottstein's dog, Levi.
But the unit wouldn't have been able to add a third dog without some external financial help. That began last year when 7-year-old Woodbury resident Cole Shaback requested that instead of birthday presents, he wanted people to donate money to the city for the purchase of a new K-9 dog.
His act inspired Woodbury resident Sharon Glasrud, who followed up Shaback's fundraising efforts with a $20,000 donation.
Cline said those two efforts were the driving force behind the department's ability to add the third dog.
"This is the culmination of that," he said. "It is truly appreciated."
Knowing that his efforts were part of the addition is "pretty cool," Shaback said.
"I did a good thing for the police department," he said.
The dogs, both German shepherds, were delivered from Europe - where bloodlines are considered more pure - and arrived in St. Paul with the puppy-like playfulness of the young dogs they are.
In just a few months, however, the dogs will change - dramatically.
Beginning next week, Cline, Eherenberg and their dogs begin an intense 13-week training period at the St. Paul Canine Training Center with 10 other K-9 handlers and their dogs.
The dogs will learn how to do their jobs, and it will be up to their handlers to help transform them.
"The dogs are smart," said Ehrenberg, a six-year veteran of the department, who spent two years as a community service officer. "It's us learning to try to train the dogs."
During the academy, the dogs will be trained in obedience, agility, apprehension, tracking and suspect searching.
"It's very, very intense and very, very physically demanding," said Cline, who has been with the department for nearly 10 years. "We'll see who gets tired first - the handler or the K-9."
Ehrenberg said the training will be a welcome addition.
"It'll be exciting to get a bit of obedience in them," he said.
Once they're ready, the officers and the dogs will be out on the streets, rolling in their Chevy Tahoes.
Cline said they know they'll have to perform well, with the department's bar set high. Posel, who handles the dog Nico, has won numerous K-9 awards over the years and is a certified trainer.
"He expects a lot of his dogs and I'm sure he'll expect a lot out of us," Ehrenberg said.