Roll over and shake paws with Boomer the Dog – a man with a canine soul, who often roams the streets of Pittsburgh in a large dog costume, barking at every passing car and digging holes in the backyard. Boomer takes his persona very seriously and wishes everyone would treat him like a real dog.
Born Gary Matthews, Boomer is now a 50-something unemployed computer technician who lives by himself. He wears ears made from his long hair and a collar with a dog tag with his adopted name, Boomer the Dog. He rarely dresses as a human as he loves wearing his full size paper dog costume and getting on all fours. He eats dog food with his snout from a special bowl on the floor, barks, chases cars and digs for bones in the backyard like any other canine would. The guy even sleeps in his own indoor doghouse which, according to him, is much more comfortable than a human bed. Boomer, who resides in Pennsylvania, adopted his canine persona after watching the NBC hit show “Here’s Boomer” when he was only a child. The popular TV series was about a mixed-breed stray called Boomer who travels around helping people in trouble. This idea appealed to Mathews and soon, his fascination with dogs in general as well as with the star of the show took a life of its own and became his ultimate obsession.
Out of costume, Boomer is a pretty articulate and normal looking guy but, to his satisfaction, everybody, including friends, family and neighbors still call him by his hound name. This is due to the fact that he has always been open about his canine persona, even in his high school years when he probably used the excuse “the dog ate my homework” a little too often. His obsession with dogs drove him to have his legal name changed to Boomer the Dog but a
cat-loving judge declined his request.
Photo: Associated Press
National Geographic recently picked up his story and approached him about a documentary on his unique lifestyle for their popular show, Taboo. The documentary mentions there are other people like Boomer, who identify with various animals; they are called furries and are a subculture first recognized in the United States in the 1980s. Furries believe they are anthropomorphic animals with human characteristics such as high intelligence, the ability to speak and walk on two legs, facial expressions and so on. Dressing up in animal costumes is a hobby to most of them, but Boomer has taken it to the extreme, making his furry fandom the focus of his life.
It’s a dog-eat-dog world but Boomer seems pretty happy, always smiling and joyfully wagging his paper tail. His life might seem odd to most people, but as long as he is enjoying himself and not biting anyone, all I have to say about this is “good boy, Boomer!”