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Tag: chopper

Therapy dog booted, based on his biker duds

San Diego’s most famous therapy dog has lost his certification — and all because of his biker outfit.

Chopper the Biker Dog was certified by Pet Partners, and over the past five years he has visited thousands of people in hospitals, schools and senior living centers up and down the West Coast.

But suddenly, after all that time, his biker duds have been ruled “innapropriate,” ABC 10 News reported.

Pet Partners has informed his owner, Mark Shaffer, that the certification was suspended because it did not approve of Chopper’s biker outfit. Chopper wears a leather vest and a bandana and, when he’s on his motorcycle, a helmet and some pretty cool goggles.

Shaffer got the news after he and Chopper returned from an 11-day trip to Oregon, stopping at VA hospitals and police departments every day along the trip.

chopper“Disbelief,” Shaffer said of the decision. “There was anger and there was a lot of hurt.”

In a statement, Pet Partners explained that “the use of costumes and clothing in an animal-assisted therapy environment raises a number of concerns for the animal, the handler and the clients or patients being seen … Pet Partners harbors no ill will towards motorcycle enthusiasts. Holiday costumes, tutus or clothing other than a scarf are also not allowed.”

“We wish Mark and Chopper all the best and hope that they will continue to bring smiles to the people they meet. Mark did receive written warning to correct the behavior before the suspension to follow the appropriate protocol. He is free to dress Chopper as he pleases, just not while volunteering at facilities as a therapy animal team.”

Shaffer said that — rather than taking Chopper out of his biker outfit — he will seek certification from another therapy dog organization. He’s getting a lot of support for his decision on his Facebook page.

“They claim they don’t allow dogs in costumes,” said Shaffer. “This is not a costume,” “This is his persona. This is what he is.”

(Photo: From Chopper’s Facebook page)

Dockside Encounters: Chopper

Name: Chopper

Age: About 5

Breed: Ummmmm, let’s just say a terrier mix

Encountered: On the docks at Nick’s Fish House and marina in Baltimore

Backstory: Chopper made the transition from desert dog to boat dog several years ago — relocating from Kingman, Arizona to Baltimore, Maryland, where he now  lives aboard a huge yacht (compared to mine, anyway), in the process of being restored by Travis Guthrie and Magdalena Sudnik.

Travis, a boat builder and yacht carpenter, and Maggie, an artist, are both living on the Lucy Maru — and, as of very recently,  in official wedlock, we can be among the first to report.

(They also do a blog called “Dog on Boat,” which tracks their lives on board, the progress of the two boats they’re restoring and the hijinks of Chopper and a cat named Billy.)

Maggie was painting a mural as part of an art project on on Route 66 when Chopper, as he would be named, came running up from out of nowhere. They’ve been together ever since.

Every day, Chopper – he’s one of at least half a dozen dogs living with liveaboards at Nick’s — runs off the boat, down the pier and into the parking lot at Nick’s where he’s happy diving into the water to chase his ball.

While doing so he, literally, becomes a different dog. When his fine white coat gets drenched, it all but disappears, revealing a dog with black spots. Once he dries off, he’s white again.

Travis and Maggie, who have been together about eight years, can be seen toiling on the Lucy Maru just about every day — though one gets the feeling it’s more than just toil.

Their plan is to finish the restoration and do what they’ve long been contemplating: Sail off into the sunset.