Social media may be awash with cute cat videos and kitten memes, but Instagram has gone to the dogs when it comes to Paikea the police dog!
Under the handle @k9_paikea, the adorable 11-month-old German shepherd has more than 5400 followers on the picture-sharing platform – and he’s “quite the little superstar” in public too, according to his trainer, Constable Regan Mauheni.
A member of the Armed Offenders Squad, the Invercargill-born officer, 31, was shot in the head in a high-profile siege in Kawerau in March and needed emergency surgery to remove shrapnel lodged in his brain. “Yeah, that was definitely a bad day at the office,” quips Regan.
Afterwards, the award-winning dog handler transferred to Dunedin and was forced to leave behind his beloved canine Buck. “That was super-sad,” tells Regan.
“Because we live with the dogs 24/7, they’re our constant companions and we get massively attached to them, but they’re police resources, so they belong
to the district.”
However, in Dunedin, Regan met Paikea and the pair have been inseparable ever since. Regan grins, “He’s my best mate. He’s a real cool wee fella, a pleasure to be around. He cruises around with me in the car and comes home with me at the end of the day. He comes to the beach and the gym. He’s one of the family.”
Paikea’s Instagram profile – which follows him from an eight-week-old bundle of naughtiness to an almost-qualified Armed Offenders Squad dog – began as a recuperation project for Regan, as well as a way of removing barriers between police and the public.
But Paikea is also a hit while out on the street in Dunedin. His proud handler says, “People come over to tell me they follow him on Instagram. Most people wouldn’t come and speak to a six-foot-four cop in a café otherwise!”