HARRISBURG — As Cappy wandered the streets of Harrisburg, a grand building caught her eye: the Pennsylvania Capitol, where important-looking people in sharp suits came in and out each day.

In a real rags-to-riches chain of events, Cappy joined them. This month, the pitbull mix pup with soulful brown eyes was named a community-service officer for the Capitol Police.

She was found huddled near a warm-air vent in the shadow of the Capitol early on the chilly morning of April 29, state officials said. After a Capitol Police officer rescued her, the department searched for an owner on social media but couldn’t find one.

Her laid-back and affectionate personality won over the department’s officers. So they adopted her.

“This started out with a pup that didn’t have a home, that was found by a building cold, just trying to stay warm,” said Troy Thompson, spokesperson for the Department of General Services. It oversees the Capitol Police, who secure all state buildings in Harrisburg and Scranton, and also assists Harrisburg police when necessary.

“Now, she’s found one of the best homes that she could have,” Thompson said.

Cappy, short for Capitol, got her name after a Facebook contest run by the Capitol Police. She chose her name herself, by deciding to eat out of a bowl labeled “Cappy” rather than identical ones labeled “Blue” and “Hanna.”

Capitol Police - Name Reveal

Thank you for all of your name suggestions on our Pennsylvania Capitol Police Facebook page! From the more than 1,000 ideas, the five finalists were Cappy, Penny, Hanna, Blue, and River. From those options, our newest team member clearly liked the name "Cappy" the best.🐕🐾 Cappy (or a version of the word 'Capitol') was one of the names that were suggested the most, and we're thrilled to announce that as the winning entry! Cappy's official title is 'Community Service Dog' and she will be assigned to community relations and recruitment efforts, so look for her to be all over the Central Pennsylvania area in the coming months. We're thrilled to have her join our ranks. Be sure to visit our Facebook page to stay tuned to see all the wonderful things that Cappy will be doing. And thanks again for all of your support! PS - Congratulations to Trisha for being the first one to suggest Cappy's new name (in its current spelling) in the comments section of our Facebook page.

Posted by Pennsylvania Capitol Police on Tuesday, May 21, 2019

As a community-service dog for the police, Cappy will attend public events, and welcome Capitol visitors and employees and support victims of crime and those in emotional distress. Thompson said she will also help to create a pathway to better relations between the police and the public.

“She allows officers to engage the public and engage children in a way that isn’t something in their normal duties, like investigating a crime or issuing a ticket,” he said. “It’s a great way for people to get to know the Capitol Police and, hopefully, they’ll learn about some of the things they do.”

When she’s not on duty, Cappy lives with her guardian officer, Sgt. Mike Schmidt, and his three kids on a farm near Harrisburg. Schmidt was the first officer to meet Cappy, and said her personality is what made her a good candidate for a full-time job.

“She ended up having a real good demeanor about her,” he said. “She loves attention. She loves to play. When I bring her in every morning to work, she wants to play with one of our K-9s right away.”

Cappy plays with Artie, a K-9 officer with the Pennsylvania Capitol Police, on Thursday, May 23, 2019.
Alyssa Biederman
Cappy plays with Artie, a K-9 officer with the Pennsylvania Capitol Police, on Thursday, May 23, 2019.

Schmidt admitted that it’s taking Cappy a while to get used to working 9 to 5.

“She has a lazy side to her as well,” he said. “Yesterday, she was here in the office and just going to sleep on the couches.”

Contact Alyssa Biederman at alyssab@temple.edu.