Born Duane Chapman 58 years ago, Dog (as he is most commonly known) has been responsible for the successful capture of more than 6,000 fugitives over a remarkable 30-year career.
Dog has spent the past seven plus years having these fugitive chases and more captured for his hit television show Dog The Bounty Hunter, a show that is more than just a glorified version of cops and robbers. While viewers do have the opportunity to witness his pursuit of criminals, they also get a warts-and-all view into his personal life, giving them the opportunity to bear witness to a humble yet charismatic man.
One of Dog’s most striking qualities is the fact that his behaviour while attempting to capture a criminal is completely different from the person talking with the fugitive after their capture. Once he has secured his prey, Dog becomes a spiritual advisor and life counsellor all rolled into one, encouraging those who have lost their way in life to turn their lives around before it is too late.
It is somewhat ironic then to note that Dog’s road to success had rather unlikely beginnings. An ex-convict who had been in and out of trouble with the law, it was on a three-day journey to a Texan penitentiary that Dog decided that turning his life around was going to be a necessity.
“I was 23 years old and had basically hit my breaking point,” he told The Times & Transcript from his Hawaiian home last week. “I was on a three-day bus ride to the Texas penitentiary, crammed in alongside 50 to 90 other inmates and it was right there and then I decided that this was not going to define the rest of my life. It was no longer going to be the life I chose to lead.”
Of course, Dog did turn his life around and with rather impressive results. With such an awe-inspiring number of fugitive captures behind him, one has to wonder if he often encounters former fugitives that he had a hand in apprehending but, like him, have successfully turned their lives around?
“Absolutely, I see them all the time,” he says. “And I think because they don’t want to hurt my feelings, they will tell me that their lives are better because of me but regardless, it is just good to see them now trying to do better for themselves.”
Dog credits his faith in God and compassion for fellow man in propelling his life forward from his days as an ex-cont. He says that he truly believes that he was put on this earth to help guide people who have temporarily lost their way and help steer them back to the straight and narrow path.
“It is a natural thing that I can’t quite explain. It is like a calling, something that is completely natural,” he says. “I think that if there is a God, I believe that if you do good to mankind and help them out of a hole, when it is time for you to meet God, he won’t cast you into darkness.”
Living life under the microscope of the television camera has been an adjustment for Dog, his wife Beth, son Leland and daughter Lyssa, all of whom actively participate in the taping of Dog The Bounty Hunter. He admits that the cast is now used to living with a television camera constantly over their shoulders and says that capturing so many aspects of their lives for the purpose of public consumption has served a greater purpose on more than one occasion.
“I really do not think that we could bounty hunt without cameras anymore because there has been so many things that we have been accused of that have never happened. There was one person that accused Leland of armed robbery. Leland had grabbed the person’s wallet, took a look at it and then tossed it back into his vehicle. But the guy went to the police stating that we robbed him. The police were ready to book us until we showed them the footage of Leland throwing the wallet back into the vehicle and it was only then that the guy admitted that he was lying. You have to remember that we are dealing with the criminal element and that they will often resort to such measures.”
Asked what his show at Moncton’s Casino New Brunswick will offer, Dog says that he will be speaking about his successes and how exactly he has arrived at this point in his life.
“People often want to hear how I did what I did when I was younger and then turned my life around to be on a successful television show,” he says.
Dog goes on to note how much he is looking forward to returning to Canada saying he believes that Canadians are a great group of people.
“One of Beth’s best friends is Shannon Tweed who, of course, is a Canadian. She told us for years that we would love the country and we really do. The Canadian people are a great bunch of citizens.”
Article published in September 14, 2011 edition of the Times & Transcript