The sight of "furries" dressed in animal costumes has become commonplace in
Pittsburgh, which for five summers has hosted Anthrocon, the largest annual
convention of the anthropomorphic enthusiasts. But it is exceedingly rare --
even among a group committed to attributing human characteristics to animals
-- to legally change one's name to that of a made-up dog.
Meet Mr. Mathews, a barking trailblazer.
When he was a teen, the now 44-year-old Green Tree man became obsessed with
a short-lived NBC show called "Here's Boomer," about a stray mutt that saved
people in trouble. In high school other kids began to call him Boomer and he
broadcast a radio show about the dog from his basement. By adulthood he was
dressing as the shaggy-haired dog at conventions and parties, for the last
few years in a full-sized Boomer suit made of shredded paper.
Early this year he began the process of legally changing his name to Boomer
The Dog, noting many of his friends already called him that: one of his
exhibits in a hearing Tuesday before Allegheny County Common Pleas Court
Judge Ronald W. Folino was a letter addressed to his adopted name from a
friend named Hobnose Bordercollie.
His own father, Guy Mathews, had legally changed his name from Orlando
Matteucci, he told the judge. (He eventually got his late parents to call
him Boomer, too, but it wasn't easy. Life as a furry "is good and it's bad.
It's hard to get people in your life to adjust," he said in an interview.)