Viper is tough as nails. When he isn’t getting his nails done, that is.
Viper is the canine half of the Dracut Police Department’s K-9 unit. He does what his partner, K-9 Officer Zach Coleman, tells him to, for the most part. And when Officer Coleman puts Viper onto the scent of a suspect or a missing person, he won’t quit until he finds his prey.
Take him to Katz & Hounds, though, and the 9-year-old Dutch shepherd turns into a puppy dog.
“He’s my buddy,” says Erica Chapman, one of the groomers at the 145 Broadway Road business. “I love this dog. When he first started coming in, he was all muzzled. Now he’s just so happy to see me when he comes in.”
And after the grooming, this tough-as-nails, super-energetic, hyper-focused dog leaves Katz & Hounds the envy of other police dogs.
“We make him smell like a girl when he leaves,” says Stephanie Fantini, owner of Katz & Hounds.
The professional pet-grooming business donates Viper’s care and grooming to the town as a way to give back to the community where Stephanie grew up and still lives.
In fact, Stephanie and Zach grew up together in Dracut and have been friends most of their lives.
Katz & Hounds and Viper both turn 10 in 2022, Viper in August, his grooming service in October.
“He usually goes into the tub first,” Stephanie says, describing a typical Viper visit. “Viper loves a bath. Then we brush him, do his nails and his ears.
“The town is so lucky to have him on the police force,” she adds.
Police Chief Peter Bartlett echoes that sentiment. “The K-9 program is really a valuable asset for the town.”
Zach says winters are usually slow for him and Viper, aside from training exercises and demonstrations. Things usually heat up in the summer. He says he and Viper keep busy during down times putting on demonstrations for community, school and civic groups, including Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, Girls Inc. of Lowell, and Boys & Girls Club of Greater Lowell. He also appears at Dracut Old Home Day.
Next time you bump into Zach and Viper, check out Katz & Hounds’ handiwork. He is one lucky dog.