After Heartbreaking Abuse, Boone the Therapy Dog Wins Top Title at American Humane Hero Dog Awards
Boone, a 4-year-old hound mix, began his life being abused and abandoned. Now, the therapy dog helps people and special needs dogs everywhere overcome their setbacks just as he did.
Trigger warning: The following paragraph briefly describes animal abuse. If this may be upsetting to you, please skip to the following paragraph.
In 2017, when he was just a few weeks old, Boone's previous owners intentionally cut off his back legs, leaving him unable to walk. Then, his owners took the disabled pup to a shelter to be put down. But the workers were so distraught when they saw Boone, they forgot to have the euthanasia paperwork filled out.
Tanya Diable, the founder of Joey's P.A.W., a nonprofit that's provided funding for over 700 dogs in need of prosthetics and wheelchairs, found Boone through Facebook and knew she had the skillset and resources needed to help the pup recover. She decided to foster Boone at home alongside her six other special needs dogs, with the intention of finding him a forever home that he'd be adopted out to later on. But as soon as she met Boone, she knew it'd be a "foster failure."
"He was not going anywhere else. I was going to adopt him," Diable tells Daily Paws.
For the first time in his life, Boone was given unconditional love and care alongside Diable's other pups. But that wouldn't be all Boone would gain back after getting such a rough start to life. Diable also had a custom wheelchair made for the two-legged pup to get him back on his feet.
"He got into a wheelchair and the boy has never been the same since. He wagged his tail for the first time—and I tear up every time I tell that—he completely changed," Diable says.
When Diable first adopted Boone, she knew his calm demeanor was something special, especially for a young pup with so much trauma. As Boone healed, people naturally gravitated towards him, and it didn't take long for Diable to see Boone's potential as a therapy dog.
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Once Boone healed and passed his therapy dog certification, he began volunteering at The Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh and at the Pittsburgh International Airport. Diable says Boone's calm personality helps people who are scared of dogs, especially children, see they're not so scary.
Beyond his work as a therapy dog, Boone brings joy through his Instagram account, which is full of photos of the smiley pup wearing his signature bowties—of which he has over 350!
Boone also serves as the adorable face of Joey's P.A.W. and even inspired Diable to write Bowtie Boone, a children's book about his life. The profits of the book, which tells Boone's story so that he can inspire children to achieve their dreams no matter their circumstances, all go back to Joey's P.A.W. to provide more mobility devices for dogs in need.
"He has been an inspiration to so many people and he has put a smile on so many faces," Diable says.
Boone was named 2021's American Hero Dog at the American Humane Hero Dog Awards, based on more than a million votes and a VIP panel of dog experts and celebrity judges. What a well-deserved win for this inspiring pup!