Some people love dogs, but Gary Matthews, age 48, would love to be one. Matthews is a retired IT technician in Pittsburgh who wears a collar, styles his hair in a dog-eared loops, and loves to don a homemade paper costume with the pet name of “Papey” to fulfill his chosen dog lifestyle.
Matthews feels he’s a dog in spirit and has named his alter ego “Boomer.” In fact, for much of his life, he has gone by the nickname that was inspired by a television show, “Here’s Boomer,” which ran from 1979 to 1982 about a stray dog.
Boomer’s obsession started before that, at age 11, when his father took him to see Disney’s “Shaggy DA,” about a lawyer who changes into a Sheepdog.
“I loved that movie, and thought how great it would be to transform into a dog just like that,” says Matthews. “It affected me somehow, it was just an idea filled with strong emotions for whatever reason. I started to ‘play Dog’ and just thought it was a fun game” according to his website.
From that young age, he started collecting dog-related items and studying everything that had to do with his canine obsession.
His parents did become concerned when he never seemed to grow out of the dog stage. They grew to accept the fact that Matthews felt more like a dog, and even began calling him Boomer like his friends did. He underwent evaluation and attended a special school due to the social complications related to his preferences. His parents were apparently comfortable enough with his mental state to leave him their house and a trust fund from their estate, which he now lives off of.
Living the dog lifestyle
To get more deeply in touch with his inner dog, he eats and drinks from dog dishes, occasionally eats dog food (Pedigree canned is his favorite) and carries a squeaky dog toy around with him for security. He has built himself a portable dog house that he keeps in the attic and can move outside during nice weather. He states his dog bed is much more comfortable than human mattresses.
Boomer felt it would be natural to change his name to what he goes by, since only his bills and identification carry his birth name. His request was denied in 2010 by a judge who deemed the change to be too confusing. In the event of an emergency or testimony situation, as soon as he would state, “Boomer the Dog” the report would instantly be considered a prank.
Man’s best friend is looking for puppy love
Boomer has had the most acceptance in the Furries subculture, where people who dress up like mascots and assume anthropomorphic personalities. He has attended several Furries conventions and hopes to one day meet a “puppy girl” who shares his love for all things dog.
We admire many traits of dogs, but is this taking things a bit too far?