It’s not easy becoming an officer with the Newport Beach Police Department. Less than one percent of applicants are even considered for an initial interview.
On the application form, one can voluntarily place a checkmark in the “ethnicity” box. In the history of the PD, according to a spokesperson, only one has been registered as “Pughuahua,” an unfamiliar moniker that might seem more appropriate for a remote Amazonian tribe.
All finalists must undergo a battery of grueling exams that separates the best of the best from the rest: physical agility; polly-graph (lie detector not administered by a parrot); psychological probes, and a final interview by a panel of three officers who bark commands to see how they can take it.
On March 6, 2021, in an official ceremony that many call “highly unique,” Chief Jon Lewis welcomed Officer Bubbles to the ranks of the Department.
Newly badged Animal Control Officer (ACO) Bubbles was immediately stationed at the NBPD Animal Control Shelter located at 20302 Riverside Dr., in Newport Heights.
One half Pug, one half Chihuahua, ACO Bubbles doesn’t mind if you leave off the Officer title when you call her, as long as you have some meaty treats to offer (some might call it a form of bribery). With no tasty enticements, Bubbles will escape faster than a perp trying to avoid in-cur-ceration.
Effective immediately, Bubbles – all eight pounds of her – will take on both PR and CR roles (puppy relations and cat relations) for the NBPD, making appearances at public events and starring in entertaining promotional videos.
As do all two-legged officers, she will have to undergo continuing education, her next assignment being CPR, or Cat and Pup Rescue. There will also be a session at the station’s indoor firing range, where instructors will try to explain that in this situation, the term “Trigger” is not a horse.
According to Animal Control Office Valerie Schomburg, who supervises the shelter for the Newport Beach Police Department, Bubbles usually goes to bed early, fatigued by the many hand and paw shakes during her work day. In fact, managing a cacophonous shelter that routinely houses 18 dogs and a like number of cats, Schomburg goes to bed early, as well.
In her early video career, this puppy has proved herself a ham – with all due respect to the porcine members of the animal kingdom. She loves attention; in fact, she demands it. And when she feels like it, show-bizzy Bubbles will abandon all her Homosapien agents and responsibilities to take a beauty nap.
Fortunately, daily naps help to alleviate the frequent theatrical crankiness that Bubbles exhibits, especially when she must share space with cats. Although Bubbles does seem to adore kittens, she will abscond with the adult cats’ toys when she can get away with it, perhaps forgetting that she’s employed by a police department.
If Imelda Marcos was known for her shoe collection, in the doggy world, Bubbles is locally famous for her wardrobe, which now numbers 60 custom-designed-and-tailored dresses for just about all occasions – provided free of charge by Costa Mesa resident and British-born canine couturier Carol Leadbetter-Graham. Schomburg pays for the fashionable materials out of her own pocket.
Schomburg has yet to help Bubbles select the dress that she’ll soon sport as she sits in a mini-police car at the base of Newport Pier, reminding dog owners that their pups are not allowed on the pier.
Although truly a public figure, Bubbles does have a secret, although the truly observant may have suspected something was amiss: Bubbles suffers from Cerebellar Hypoplasia, a condition in which the cerebellum didn’t develop properly before she was born. This defines her fine motor skills, somewhat akin to Parkinson’s Disease. If Bubbles runs too fast (again, motivated often by the promise of treats, or when she becomes over-anxious to greet new kennel arrivals), she seems to almost bounce and then loses her balance, stumbling in her gait. This is just something to which Bubbles will have to adjust to as she matures, Shomburg shares.
Despite her mild handicap, Bubbles lives the stereotypical Newport life: good food, fine accommodations, great friends. And enough media attention to make Rin Tin Tin yappingly jealous.
For more information, visit Friends of Newport Beach Animal Shelter at https://fonbas.org.