Elementary school students are treated to a special lesson

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NORTH PLATTE, Neb. -- Some North Platte 3rd graders were treated to a special lesson in school Wednesday afternoon from a local police officer.

Lt. Gordon Downing, who is in charge of the Nebraska State Patrol's Police Service Dog Division, brought his police dog to Jefferson Elementary to teach the students about his work. He also taught the students about the different breeds of police dogs and how the police train them.

"I like to dispel the rumor that all we have are big, aggressive [and] mean dogs," Lt. Downing said. "It's nice to let them know that they're just dogs [and] all we are doing is just using their natural abilities ... to help us in police work."

Lt. Downing hid a stuffed animal, which had the scent of drugs on it, in one of the classroom's cabinets. He allowed the dog to sniff out the stuff animal in front of the kids to show them how well the dog can smell. However, the students said their favorite part of the demonstration was watching the dog pull the stuffing out of the stuffed animal.

"It was pretty funny," Cooper Lange,a 3rd grader in the class, said. "It was interesting [to watch] because I have dogs at my home. They chew [the toys] up, but they do it slowly. That dog, he's working really hard, so I didn't know that he'd chew it up that fast."

The teachers organized the presentation because their students have recently been learning about service and police dogs.