Follow K9 Pako on Instagram and you’ll witness a dog of action. One who wears many hats (literally), works hard and, of course, plays hard.
The Westminster Police Department Dutch shepherd has been at the agency for almost five years now. Along with his partner, Officer Travis Hartman, the two patrol the streets of Westminster, keeping residents safe.
The social “people person” that Pako is, he enjoys keeping a public face on Instagram to better connect with his community. The larger Web community has responded in suit — he now boasts over 9,000 followers.
“We have followers all the way from Japan, New Zealand, Australia,” says Pako. “Quite a few all the way from the Netherlands, where I’m from.”
Yes, Pako has quite a few things to say. He and Hartman took some time from their busy crime-fighting schedule to answer our pressing questions … and Pako wants to set the record straight on a thing or two.
On Pako’s Home Life…
Pako admits he’s a bit of a couch potato at home.
“He just likes to snuggle on the couch with either me or my wife,” says Hartman.
He spends a lot of time sleeping on the couch and watching “How to Train Your Dragon” with his human sister. But that’s not the only television he enjoys.
“I actually do like watching ‘Cops,’” Pako says, adding that he especially found this one K9 episode quite interesting. “The other one I really like is ‘Turner & Hooch.’ … I think I could teach Hooch a few things.”
In addition to his human sister (“That’s my favorite human being on this planet”), he also has three canine siblings: Koda, a German shepherd (“We’re inseparable”); Delilah, a beagle; and Ranger, an 8-pound Jack Russell terrier.
He also has another favorite pastime.
“I like to swim,” Pako says. “That’s a big thing for me. Weather doesn’t make a difference.”
Pako’s Favorite Things
Picking a favorite toy is a tough call for Pako.
“At home, I’m a really big fan of the linen tug,” he says. “Either the tug or the Jolly Ball.”
Getting ready for work also makes him very happy.
“Our ritual when we’re getting ready for work … I’ll put my uniform on, I’ll come out to the kennel,” Hartman says. “As soon as I put my uniform on, he starts spinning and barking.”
Pako doesn’t deny it.
Beyond pool and work time, Pako’s favorite activity is definitely fetch.
“I like to play the game where Dad throws the ball and I bring the ball back and he throws the ball and I get the ball again,” he says.
Pako in Training
Pako hasn’t lost his passion for the job one bit. In fact, his enthusiasm only seems to grow.
“Once I came over here from the Netherlands, once I realized what my new job was, I started falling more and more in love with it the more I get to do it,” he says, punctuating the thought with an intense string of barking.
Another difficult question: What’s his favorite type of training?
“Ooooh that’s a tough one. … I would say, I love harbor day because of the water,” he says, explaining that the training involves jumping into the water of a harbor in pursuit of his target — one of his fellow human officers in a bite suit. “I would say the harbor would edge the helicopters out just because I get to be out on the water.”
Helicopter training involves K9 teams flying up in a police helicopter and practicing being hoisted up in it — which Pako thinks is loads of fun.
“I actually love the helicopters,” he says. “I actually like to sit up and look outside the window when we’re flying.”
Pako at Work
Ultimately the goal of all this fun training is so Pako can catch bad guys. It’s why he was inspired to become a police officer, after all.
“Because when I catch bad guys, I get endless belly rubs, obviously,” he says.
He got to help out on a call not too long ago.
“We helped Fountain Valley with a stolen vehicle pursuit maybe two weekends ago,” says Pako. “We were first on scene and hunkered down in the backyard.”
The suspect jumped over another wall and Pako didn’t get to apprehend the suspect. Pako was stoic, but Hartman knows better.
“When he knows he’s getting close, his whole body shakes,” says Hartman. “When we come around the corner, you can feel it on the leash.”
So it was a little bit of a letdown not to catch the suspect this time — the apprehension went to the Sheriff’s Department K9 — but Pako is always a professional.
“My favorite part of the job is to help everybody around me and let my partners come home safe every night … and when Dad lets me eat a hamburger,” he says.
But it’s not all about burgers and bites for Pako. Some of his favorite work is with children in the community.
One of his favorite places to go is “any event where there’s little humans … anywhere from 2 years old to 10 years old. … I love little kids.”
He admits that he also enjoys the belly rubs he receives.
Which leads to an important clarification Pako wants to make.
“The biggest thing is the misnomer that police dogs are attack dogs,” he says. “Police dogs are nothing more than the world’s greatest hide-and-seek champions. I want everyone to know that police dogs are not vicious by nature and they have no ill will toward anyone. We just want to play.”
Play is all Pako needs. And it never hurts to have a little red meat. Pako turns 8 on June 6. His birthday plans?
“A big steak and pool time,” he says.
Follow Pako on Instagram: @westminsterpolicek9