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A therapy dog, with special needs of his own, visits kids at Leechburg Area High School |
Valley News Dispatch

A therapy dog, with special needs of his own, visits kids at Leechburg Area High School

Don’t tell Boone he ain’t nothing but a hound dog.

Boone, a 1-year-old hound mix, cruelly became a double amputee when he was a puppy.

“Boone’s legs were intentionally cut off by his previous owner,” said Boone’s human “mom” Tanya Diable, of Butler Township.

Boone, sporting a signature bow-tie — he has more than 100 — and assisted by his two spiffy oversized rear wheels that afford him excellent mobility, rolled down the hallways of Leechburg Area High School on Thursday, causing quite the buzz among students.

“Oh, you just made my day!” said one student, stopping quickly to hug and pet Boone on her way to class.

This was Boone’s first visit to Leechburg’s campus.

Boone’s mission?

“Spreading kindness, love and helping others,” Diable said. “You can see the positive effect he has on people.”

The disabled but determined pup recently completed a three-month course, earning him certification as a therapy dog.

He volunteers almost weekly at various Pittsburgh locales, including Pittsburgh International Airport and schools in the region, such as a visit in January to the Mars School District.

Boone was quickly the teacher’s pet Thursday, spontaneously rolling into an honors history class for a quick visit before reporting to his assigned classroom.

Students in teacher Mark Jones’ lifeskills class spent about an hour visiting with Boone, asking questions, curious about Boone’s disability.

Jones said the goal of the visit was twofold: to give his students a positive message about special needs and to provide a unique classroom experience.

“He brightened up the day for a lot of young students today,” Jones said. “It is important that special needs kids see a dog that has some special needs that is out in public, helping people out and making people’s lives better.”

Sixth-grader Corgan McCanna seemed especially smitten with Boone.

“I have therapy, and dogs really help me with therapy because they are so cuddly and cute and they are always nice to you,” Corgan said.

For Diable, watching Boone “work” is rewarding.

“He was so excited to go to work,” Diable said. “He makes new friends and is very social. This is what he was meant to do.

“I knew from the moment he got his wheels on and that light and spark came back to his eyes — he could move around again — I knew he could help others.”

Boone serves as the public face for Joey’s P.A.W., a non-profit founded in 2017 by the Diables that has awarded more than 180 prosthetics and wheelchairs to handicapped dogs nationally and globally in less than two years.

Thousands of Boone fans follow his Instagram page, which shows Boone in all his bow-tie, canine cuteness and promotes Joey’s P.A.W. in hopes of helping more dogs.

“He’s my little rockstar,” Diable said.

“I knew Boone would be a great therapy dog from the beginning because of his calmness,” Diable said. “This is his calling. When you see people’s faces and reactions to Boone, it solidifies that this is, indeed, his purpose.”

Find Boone on Instagram


Joyce Hanz is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

Boone, a 1-year-old hound-beagle mix certified therapy dog, receives attention from Life Skills students during a classroom visit at Leechburg Area High School on Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019.
Boone, a certified therapy dog, is a double amputee and gets around on a special wheeled cart.
Boone, a double amputee is a certified therapy dog. He poses with his human “mom,” Tanya Diable of Butler, while visiting Leechburg Area High School on Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019.
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