Dog the Bounty Hunter
A&E kills the dreams of handicapped youngsters by pulling bounty hunter Dog off air
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The current tempest in which Duane “Dog” Chapman is immersed captures him on tape using inappropriate—and yes, racist slurs.
It is wrong to resort to that kind of language no matter the provocation, something Chapman admits.
A&E moved with lightning speed to suspend, indefinitely, his reality TV show.
But lost in this latest chapter is what Duane Chapman the man really is: generous to a fault and an inspiration to people who rarely find it elsewhere.
This time last year, television’s celebrated bounty hunter was making wishes come true for 15-year-old Steve Eltz, who after a long history of surgery and medical procedures, including treatment for cerebral palsy, hydrocephalus, seizures and orthopedic problems, got to meet his hero, Dog the Bounty Hunter.
Steve’s tale is the story of a perpetually playful lad, who’d much sooner be down at the local creek catching tadpoles with his pal D.J. than back in hospital for yet another operation. It is the story of a youngster under the most discouraging of circumstances still trying to tease his sister, Laura when he thinks she could use a little cheering up.
Dog detractors were there long before his son, Tucker sold his father out to the National Enquirer. Like film star, Nick Nolte, Dog has one of those lived-in faces and goes about sporting tattoos and leather. On his reality TV show, Dog, Beth and family gather for a little prayer before going out on the road chasing down people who skip bail. Those people Dog calls “Bro”. Some detractors call Dog tacky, but there can be little doubt that fans accept him for what he is, “lovably tacky”.
With all of his many warts showing, Dog is the arch defender of the underdog.
The father of 12 children, Dog lost his daughter, Barbara, who was tragically killed in a car crash on the eve of the very day he married longtime ladylove. Beth.
In the ups and downs of his checkered past, threaded through with misgivings and tragedies, many of his fans can relate to Duane Dog Chapman, the one-time bad guy who made it to the other side.
In any case, with setbacks that would discourage even the most courageous of adults, Steve Eltz, kept alive the dream of someday, somehow meeting face-to-face with his hero.
“Dog the Bounty Hunter has been Steven’s hero for ages,” said his Mom Barbara Eltz. “And it’s noteworthy that it was really the repeated failure of the shunt that controls his hydrocephalus that led to his neurosurgeon completing an application for the Make-A-Wish process.”
So when the Make-A-Wish Foundation offered to grant Steven any wish he wanted, you can be sure it was to meet Dog the Bounty Hunter. Not only did young Steven get to meet Dog face-to-face, he made a new friend for life in the Dog-admiring, 7-year-old DJ.
In an imagination fired up by long lonely hours in his room, Steven was no longer confined to a wheelchair but out there catching the bad guys with Dog.
Since Steven loves everything about Dog the Bounty Hunter, it came as no surprise that Dog’s wife, Beth is Steven’s all-time favourite poster girl.
“Beth—I have a crush on her!” Steven `fessed up soon as Dog was introducing him to the cast.
Dog of the big-as-Texas heart, laughingly put the suitor into an instant “headlock’. Worries about his next operation flew out the window, as Steven became a suitor taken seriously.
The Make-A-Wish gift made Steven feel important and that his life was worthwhile. On the visit to Dog, it was not only playmate D.J., but also Mom and sister Laura who accompanied him. In fact on the way to Dog, the family photo with Diamond Head in the background showing Steven flanked by Mom and Laura was to become a souvenir that would long outlast the visit. The photo, on his nightstand, is the last thing Steven sees as he closes his eyes each night.
As it happened, the crew was shooting for a future episode of Dog the Bounty Hunter on the Dave of Steven and D.J.‘s visit.
Dog—who receives 7.000 requests for visitors a week, told the boys, “It’s my honor that you wanted to meet me.” (God bless you for that, Duane Chapman!)
Chapman approaches children who hold him as a hero the same way he approaches everything else in life—he throws his heart into it.
To these youngsters, the bad guys, big as they are, always head for the hills—some hightailing it all the way to Mexico—when they hear the spurs on Dog’s cowboy boots coming their way.
The last thing Beth told Steven after a panda bear hug was, “I love you”.
Dog reinforced Steven’s belief in himself and made him look a hero in the eyes of his peers after his return back home.
Now the same peers who ignored Steven and D.J. as they rollerbladed past them, were asking them for their autographs when they heard the pair would be featured on an upcoming episode of Dog the Bounty Hunter.
For Steven’s Mom it was coming back home with new faith. “When you have a child that has something life threatening, I think you treasure the little things in life a lot more, and Dog did that for us.”
Duane Chapman regrets the racial slurs he made during his private telephone call with his son. Moving in a world where ratting is a word in constant use, he’ll likely regret being ratted out by his own son for the rest of his days.
It is true that removing Dog the Bounty Hunter indefinitely from A&E “for the foreseeable future” is a way to punish Duane Chapman for using racial slurs.
But A&E’s action also kills off the possibilities for all the other Steven Eltz’s to make it to see Dog the Bounty Hunter.