EAST BREMERTON — When K-9 Deputy Aaron Baker lifted one of the next generation of police dogs out of his Kitsap County Sheriff’s car Friday afternoon, a collective “Awwwww!” rose from the crowd.
Baker and fellow K-9 Deputy Joe Hedstrom had just finished a demonstration of their canine partners, describing to a crowd at the Kitsap County Fair the discipline and agility of the office’s two tracking dogs.
But soon as the crowd set eyes on Blue, a 12-week-old puppy that Baker is raising and training at home, the pint-sized, furry deputy was swarmed by kids, crowding in to pet him.
A high-scorer on the aptitude test that helps determine a law enforcement canine’s career path, Blue rested his belly on the grass and let the kids have their way with him.
That is part of why Baker selected the German Shepherd: His eager, curious disposition.
“His tail never stops wagging,” Baker said, who said in addition to showing Kitsap residents the dogs, just being around crowds and kids help socialize them.
Blue and his littermate, Jax, were sired by Hedstrom’s dog, Titan, and a family pet German Shepard owned by Bremerton Police Officer David Hughes.
The breeding arrangement gives the office its pick of two pups from three possible litters, and saves the office a considerable amount of money. Hedstrom said buying a dog can cost upward of $10,000.
Blue got his name from the color of his collar used to distinguish him from his siblings, but it is a fitting name for a police dog. Jax is named in honor of one of Hedstrom’s dogs, Ajax, who served with the office from 2008 until his retirement in 2012 after being injured in the line of duty. Ajax lived the rest of his days with Hedstrom and his family and was put down in November.
Baker and Hedstrom are each housing and training two puppies themselves, a process that takes about two years. At that time their current dogs may retire, and the young ones could start their service.
Hedstrom said the new puppy is already showing his personality.
“He thinks he is bigger than he is,” Hedstrom said of Jax, who was swarmed with kids. Hedstrom got swarmed by the kids as well.
“They are puppies,” Hedstrom said. “Who doesn’t like puppies?”
Jessica Degenhardt, 12, who was attending the fair with her mom, Becky, took her turn petting Jax and agreed that she would like to take the pup home with her.