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.”
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.”
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.”