Two of York County's most pup-ular bluebloods have teamed up in a new way to help kids learn important safety lessons.
Capt. Dargo the German shepherd and Lt. Lou the bloodhound — both K-9s with the York County Sheriff's Office — have already made hundreds of friends during their regular visits to schools, community groups and events across the county.
Now they co-star in a coloring book that features connect-the-dots puzzles, a maze and other activities, all with tips such as avoiding strangers, buckling up and saying no to drugs.
'They love it': "It's been well-received," Lt. David Godfrey said of the homemade booklet. "Every time we go into schools and say Dargo or Lou brought the kids a present, they're ecstatic. They love it."
Godfrey, Dargo's partner, and Sgt. Sam Shipley, who partners with Lou, are on the front cover of the booklet, but that's where their adventure ends.
"We understand it's all about the dogs," Godfrey said. "We're just going along for the ride. ... How can you not love them? They're great boys."
The benign indifference to Godfrey and Shipley isn't limited to children, according to the sergeant.
"There are people in the courthouse who know the dogs' names, but not ours," Shipley said.
In demand: Godfrey said there's a joke in the sheriff's office that it takes him a half-hour to walk from the front door of the York County Judicial Center to the sheriff's office just a few yards away because courthouse workers and visitors alike stop him to greet Dargo.
And there's no shortage of public demand for appearances by the canine cops.
"We've done more community events than (work) call-outs," Shipley said.
York County residents, businesses and groups have responded enthusiastically to the dogs, according to Godfrey.
"We've had support like you wouldn't believe," he said.
DIY approach: But he knows when money's tight for a police department or sheriff's office, K-9 funding is one of the first expenditures to be cut, he said, which is why he took a do-it-yourself approach to the coloring book.
Godfrey used free online puzzles and activities to put the booklet together. He said the first 1,000-booklet printing, from start to finish, might have cost a couple of hundred dollars, "if that."
And Cracker Barrel Old Country Store on Pauline Drive in York Township donated 1,000 mini-boxes of crayons to the sheriff's office for Godfrey and Shipley to hand out with the coloring booklets.
Donations key: The sheriff's office K-9 program has always relied heavily on donations and continues to do so, Godfrey said.
Lou was donated to the sheriff's office by The Jimmy Ryce Center for Victims of Predatory Abduction, a nonprofit group that has provided hundreds of bloodhounds to police nationwide.
The cost to buy and train Dargo — who was born in the Czech Republic — were covered by Think Loud, Godfrey said. The York-based company is co-owned by members of the band Live.
The work: Lou is a scent-tracking dog, whether he is searching for a missing child, a fleeing criminal or an elderly dementia patient who has wandered off. He is a member of the York County Missing Child Task Force.
Dargo, who is 2-1/2, can also scent-track, but his primary job is as an explosives-detection dog, Godfrey said.
"He amazes me, the work he's done with explosives," Godfrey said. "His independence is awesome. All he wants to do is work."
Dargo relaxes somewhat at home, but he's no lapdog, Godfrey said. He keeps an eye on his human partner, waiting for the next job.
"He is a work dog," Godfrey said. "That's what he was bred for."
At more than 6 years old, Lou has figured out how to relax.
"His favorite thing in the summertime is to lay on the front porch," Shipley said, and simply watch the world go by. "And he likes to hang out with my wife."
Friends: The dogs are buddies, whether lying around companionably or playing rough with each other, Godfrey said.
He said the coloring booklets simply reinforce the positive interactions the K-9s already have with the community. Between now and May, Dargo and Lou are so far booked for six or eight public appearances at local schools, he said.
"We definitely enjoy showing the public what the dogs can do," Godfrey said. "We gear our program to the age of the group."
To schedule a K-9 demonstration with Dargo or Lou for your school, group or organization, contact Godfrey at firstname.lastname@example.org or Shipley at email@example.com.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org.