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Therapy dog has his day

Boone poses in Pittsburgh International Airport. A film crew came to visit him when he made his rounds as a therapy dog there.

Boone, a two-legged therapy dog from Butler, is racking up more minutes in the spotlight.

The 4-year-old hound mix is owned by Tanya and Charlie Diable. His comeback story, after suffering abuse from a previous owner, is earning him national honors and recognition for his work as a therapy dog.

Boone won the overall Hallmark Channel 2021 American Humane Hero Dog Award as well as the Therapy Dog category in November. The award is part of a competition put on by the American Humane Association, which recognizes brave and dedicated dogs.

That led to an appearance on NBC's “Nightly News with Lester Holt: Kids Edition” at noon Saturday to share his story.

According to Tanya Diable of Butler, Boone's previous owner cut off the dog's back legs.“He's literally a miracle; he was supposed to be put down,” she said.Diable said the couple took Boone into their home as a foster in the summer of 2018 and fell in love with him.“We knew right away he wasn't going anywhere,” Diable said.Boone was able to receive surgery for his legs, and when Diable and her husband put him in a pair of rear wheels for the first time, it was incredible.“He wagged his tail for the first time,” Diable said. “He took off and he's never been the same since.”Boone became a therapy dog shortly after getting his wheelchair. Now part of the therapy dog program at the Pittsburgh International Airport, he greets passengers and staff.“At home, (Boone) is fun and playful, he loves to play with his siblings,” Diable said. “When he's working, he's a very serious boy.”Diable said someone entered Boone in the American Humane Association's contest, and he was chosen out of 400 contestants.“I'm super excited for him because he's such a great dog,” Diable said.After the win, Diable said she was contacted by the American Humane Association about featuring Boone on NBC. On Monday, a film crew accompanied Boone through the airport as he made his rounds.Diable said she's grateful for the opportunity to bring recognition to rescue dogs through the experience.Pre-pandemic, Boone was also a frequent volunteer at schools for special needs children. Diable said he should be returning to those environments in the future.“It's amazing to see kids interacting with him,” Diable said.

Diable and her husband are no strangers to dogs with special needs, owning four others besides Boone.Their organization, Joey's P.A.W., raises funds for wheelchairs and prosthetics for dogs and other animals. Diable said they just recently began a branch that will raise funds for prosthetics for dogs in law enforcement.Since their founding in August 2017, the organization has provided more than 1,000 wheelchairs and prosthetics to animals in need.“We've helped goats, horses, cats and other animals, but our main mission is dogs,” Diable said.Diable has also authored a book on Boone's journey from shelter to adoption to therapy dog called “Bow Tie Boone.” She said she's currently working on a second book, and last November released a coloring book of Boone and his friends.“There are so many people that just love him,” Diable said. “I just think he deserves it after all he's been through.”“Bow Tie Boone” and “Bow Tie Boone & Friends Coloring Book” are available online. Proceeds benefit Joey's P.A.W.To donate to Joey's P.A.W. or to learn more about the organization, visit www.joeyspaw.org.+

Boone, a local two-legged therapy dog, won the Hallmark Channel 2021 American Humane Hero Dog Award, a national competition put on by the American Humane Association.Submitted photo
Boone interacts with passengers and staff while on duty as a therapy dog at Pittsburgh International Airport.

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