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Tag: costume

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)

Why a real dog should have played McGruff

mcgruff2

A Houston man who once portrayed McGruff the Crime Dog has been sentenced to more than 16 years in prison on drugs and weapons charges.

John R. Morales was sentenced to federal prison last week for charges related to his 2011 arrest.

Police who raided Morales’ residence then seized 1,000 marijuana plants and 9,000 rounds of ammunition for 27 weapons — including a shotgun, pistols, rifles, and a military grenade launcher, according to court documents obtained by NBC.

What does all this prove? If you want mascot who is pure, ethical and beyond reproach, choose a real dog. They are far less likely to get arrested, far less likely to cause a scandal, and far less likely to cave in to temptation, unless they are of the bacon variety.

This wasn’t the first time the choice of a human to play McGruff has come back to bite law enforcement. There was an incident in Phoenix in 1998 when a prison trusty police assigned to play the role removed his head and was recognized by parents in the audience as a convicted child molester.

Morales wore the McGruff costume for the Harris County Sheriff’s Association in the late 1990s. Fox News reported.

mcgruffThe human-like, trench coat-wearing dog was created by the global advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi through the Ad Council for the National Crime Prevention Council to increase crime awareness among children.

He appeared on television in animated form, and in public appearances he was portrayed by actors wearing the giant dog head and costume.

He urged young people to “take a bite out of crime.”

Morales, after his McGruff gig, was stopped in 2011 by police in Galveston for speeding, and marijuana was detected in his car trunk. Authorities said that, in addition to marijuana plants, they found a clipboard with diagrams of two indoor pot farms in his car.

That led officers to a stash of 1,000 marijuana plants and the weapons.

And who was it that first detected the marijuana in the car? A real police dog.

Boomer: The man who wants to be a dog

boomer

Dogs crave attention. Humans crave attention. So it’s only logical to assume that, being both, Boomer the dog, also known as Gary Matthews of Pittsburgh, requires large doses of it.

He got some from ABCNews.com last week. Although there haven’t been any major developments in his life or legal case, the website ran a lengthy feature on the 48-year-old retired technology worker man who eats dog food, wears a collar, barks at cars and wants to have his name legally changed to Boomer the Dog.

Matthews petitioned a court in 2010, but his request for a name change was denied. He appealed that ruling, and lost again in 2011 – a development he laments on his website, Boomerthedog.com:

boomernocostume“I believe that everyone should be able to choose the name that they would like. We didn’t get a choice when we were born, we were given names. Since we can build the identities that we choose to carry on in life with, why can’t we choose a name that goes along with it, recognized by everyone, even on official ID?”

The original judge ruled that the request for a name change was frivolous, but Matthews said plenty of other cases have been approved, including, a man in Oregon who had his named changed to Captain Awesome, and a man who legally changed his name to that of his band and is now known as the Dan Miller Experience.

Matthews — who was featured in June on the National Geographic Channel program “Taboo,” in an episode called, “Extreme Anthropomorphism: Boomer the Dog”– wears a costume made out of shredded paper and considers himself a furry. He can often be seen wandering around Pittsburgh, his hometown.

“When I go out, I get the feeling and I wave to people as a dog,” he said. “I go to local festivals because kids like the costume. That’s my way of reaching out to people and spreading the word that I can be myself in life. They see that you can have fun in adulthood. But I am kind of a loner dog.”

“Sometimes I sleep in my dog house, which is up in the attic –  I built it myself,” he added.

He enjoys Milk Bones and eats dog food (canned), but not all the time. “I eat regular human food, too, like pizza,” he told ABC.

Matthews said he got the name from the television series about a stray dog called “Here’s Boomer,” which ran from 1979 to 1982.

But he traces his obsession with dogs to long before that.

“It’s been a long process,” he said. “It started when I saw “The Shaggy DA” in 1976 when I was 11 years old. I went with my Dad to see it. I was already a dog freak and collecting pictures of dogs. I saw this movie and there was something different about it — the dad transforms into a big sheep dog. I had never seen that idea played out anywhere.”

“I started playing dog and getting into it,” said Matthews. “It was like a kid thing. Sometimes, I would bark or maybe get into a big box and peek out with my paws over the side of it like a dog would do. In a couple of years, I really got into it. … Maybe I was looking for a personality to have.”

Matthews said he lives off a trust fund left to him by his parents.

“Going public with being a dog isn’t just about the name change,” he said. “That’s only the most recent thing that I’m focusing on, because really, being a dog is about everything — it’s the way that I live.”

Matthews said he often got teased when acting like a dog as a child. “I got flak for it,” he said. “My parents didn’t like it. Earlier on, they saw it as a kid thing and they laughed. But at a certain point in time there are adult expectations and they want you to go off to work and date. Society wants to straighten you out.”

Other children teased him and he was sent to a “special school” for teens with social and emotional problems, but he insists there is nothing wrong with him.

“I see it as a lifestyle,” he said. “I just live differently.”

(Photos: From Boomerthedog.com)

OK, OK, a dog costume, but just one

BigBoyz

 
You may have noticed that we’re not real big on doggie Halloween costumes this year. We have some issues with the whole idea of costuming pooches — and encouraging the practice — that we are still working through.

That said, here’s one I just can’t pass up. Having eschewed — yes, eschewed — the costume contest at BARCStoberfest, I missed this entry (but spotted him on the Baltimore Sun’s “Unleashed” blog today). It’s Tito, a local Chihuahua, dressed as the ubiquitous pink and yellow Big Boyz Bail Bonds pen.

If you’re not from Baltimore, you might not be familiar with the company, or the fact that its pens — in a true stroke of marketing genius — are everywhere.

Big Boyz Bail Bonds orders more than 500,000 pens a year and provides them for free to bars, restaurants and shops all over town, and all over Maryland.

BARCStoberfest: Saturday in Patterson Park

Hon_DogHalloween may be more than a week away, but the time to start costuming your pooch for BARCStoberfest is now.

BARCStoberfest takes place this Saturday, Oct. 17, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Baltimore’s Patterson Park.

The costume contest, a perennial favorite, starts at 1:30 pm. Dogs can compete in any of several categories: Best Halloween Theme,  Best Hon/Best Boh, Matching Dog & Human and Most Original.

A Best in Show winner will be selected (by audience applause) from the four category winners. There’s a $15 entry fee for each category, and prizes in the contest are donated by Dogma.

Other contests at BARCStoberfest include most unique pet trick or talent, best tail wagger, best singer or howler, best kisser, fastest treat eater and smallest and largest dog. There’s a $5 entry fee for those competitions.

The 5th annual BARCStoberfest is a festival for animal lovers that helps raise funds for BARCS, which takes in 12.000 animals a year. If it’s rained out Saturday, it will be held Sunday.

Doggie fun on 4th: Visionary Pets on Parade

Baltimore’s wackiest opportunity to show off your dog (or other pet) — the American Visionary Arts Museum’s “Pets on Parade” — starts 10 a.m. tomorrow.

The event includes a pet talent show. To enter, show up and register at 9:30 at AVAM, located near the Inner Harbor at 800 Key Highway, at the foot of Federal Hill Park.

In past years, museum officials say, the pet talent show has featured a memorable range of acts, from singing dogs to hermit crabs re-enacting Revolutionary War battles.

In addition to the parade and talent contest, there will be a round of musical chairs and a chance (for pets) to cool off in pools.

Trophies will be awarded for Best Costume, Most Patriotic, Owner & Pet Look-alikes, Least Likely to Succeed as a Pet, and the esteemed Most Visionary Pet Award. Dressing up pets is encouraged but all animals must be leashed or carried.

DoggySpace costume contest benefits SPCA

Once you’ve gone to the trouble of dressing your dog up, you might as well enter him or her in the DoggySpace Halloween costume contest.

DoggySpace, a social networking site for dogs, is sponsoring a costume contest to benefit local chapters of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty of Animals (SPCA). Dog owners can post pictures at DoggySpace, where site members can vote for their favorite costume.

DoggySpace will donate $6,000 to the winning dogs local SPCA chapter.

Many SPCAs are privately funded, which means they are under-funded,” said Levi Thorton, Doggyspace founder. “Prize money from this contest will go directly to a local SPCA to help with the organizations mission of raising awareness of animal abuse and promoting programs such as good pet care and spay/neuter awareness initiatives.

Over 75 SPCA chapters have joined the cause, and more than 2,000 votes have already been cast on photos posted at doggyspace, including this one of Blanco, a Chihuahua dressed as a bumblebee.

Dog lovers have until October 31 to push their favorite costume to the winning spot.

Doggyspace.com is a social network for dog owners, with free membership. Dog owners can create a doggy portfolio, form groups, and post their favorite photos and videos while connecting with other friends in the neighborhood, from the dog park, across the country or in another country.