A young boy missing his right index finger was given a loving talking-to by cops who know all too well what it feels like to be maimed.
Nine-year-old Zalend Thames lost a finger while helping his dad use a saw to cut tiles. His Texas grandmother knew he was embarrassed by his missing finger, and went to great lengths to hide his hands.
So when she saw Lt. Brian Rackow of the Midland Police Department at a local carnival she worked hard to hunt him down.
Could he talk to her grandson? she asked.
Rackow, 46, a 20-year veteran of the force, lost his left hand on the job while disarming an oil field explosive. Fellow Officer Dave Edwards lost his left pinkie to a college accident.
Both sat down with Zalend at the department's Police Academy, just before Zalend and his family moved to Colorado.
"He was a little shy at first," Rackow told InsideEdition.com Wednesday. "But he opened up, and told us how he felt. My hope for him is that one day he will be able to help someone else."
After a photo of the meeting went up on the department's Facebook page, others who suffered similar losses wrote words of support and compassion.
"You can do anything you want," posted a woman user whose finger was cut off during friendly fire training. "Never give up."
Rackow said he and Edwards told the boy he was always going to be asked about his missing finger, and that he shouldn't take umbrage with such queries.
Zalend told him he already had a story to tell curious people.
"He said a monkey bit off his finger," Rackow said, and laughed. He was happy, he said, to sit down with the boy.
"It's really nice to do something can help people," he said.