With gorgeous good looks and star quality to spare, Bocker, the famous Labradoodle, wears many hats – from fashion model and movie star to therapy dog and animal advocate.
Bocker is one busy guy. This personable and intelligent Labradoodle is not only a therapy dog, animal advocate, and social media darling with almost half a million adoring fans; he has also been\ a successful fashion model, as well as a TV and movie star.
His career began when he was still a puppy back in 2003. His “mom” Marie Shelto and her late husband Steve Shelto, who was a singer with severe asthma, were looking for a hypoallergenic animal companion. “He found an article about this new breed of dog, the Labradoodle,” says Marie. “It seemed like the perfect fit for us.”
Before long, Bocker had joined the Shelto household in New York. For those wondering how he got his unusual moniker, he was named after Marie’s favorite basketball team, the New York Knicks (Knickerbockers). The name “Knicki” had already been claimed by the couple’s rescue cat. But she did notice something special about him – a certain star quality that seemed to attract people’s attention wherever he went.
Marie didn’t know at the time that her new puppy would But she did notice something special about him – a certain star quality that seemed to attract people’s attention wherever he went.
“From a very young age, Bocker always seemed to be thinking about his every move, and really watching all that was going on around him,” explains Marie. “He had such human, soulful eyes – and, oh, the head tilt, now known as “The Bocker Head Tilt”! I couldn’t walk down the street without someone stopping to ask me about him. Everyone who met him, even at his young age, told me he would be a natural for print ads. He had the look, patience, intelligence and willingness to learn, those soulful eyes, and of course, that head tilt.”
Marie did some research and found an animal agent in New York. “I emailed them and sent some photos of Bocker. We were asked to come in for an interview. While Bocker ‘had the look’, the agent felt he still needed a bit of training.” At just 18 months old, Bocker was To appear in a fashion advertising photo shoot for Tommy Hilfiger. “Nothing like starting at the top!” laughs Marie.
In the years since, Bocker has built up a CV that many Hollywood celebrities would envy. Not only has he done catalog modeling and fashion advertising for Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren Polo, Target and Walmart, but he has also appeared in ads for AT&T, Chase Bank, Optimum Rewards, Martha Stewart Pet Products, and many others. The talented pooch is also a seasoned movie and TV star, and has had roles in a wide range of productions, including films such as Eat Pray Love, Men In Black III, and War of the Worlds, as well as guest appearances on TV shows like Animal Planet’s DOGS 101, Good Morning America, and The View with Joy Behar. He also makes a yearly appearance at the New York Pet Fashion Show, which kicks off the annual Westminster Dog Show.
Needless to say, Bocker also has a prominent profile on social media. He has his own website and Facebook page, and a presence on Twitter and Instagram. “He now has over 450,000 fans from all over the world,” says Marie. And that’s not all. If you visit his website at bocker.tv, you’ll hear the Bocker theme song and get a chance to browse for merchandise like Bocker plush toys, a DVD, and a book entitled Chasing Bocker’s Tale.
Along with all the love and popularity he gets showered with, Bocker also enjoys a natural lifestyle. “He has always been fed holistic dry food, varied with steamed chicken, broccoli and string beans,” says Marie. “His joints and hips have been an issue, so we address that with natural supplements such as glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM and turmeric. He has also had therapeutic laser treatments, acupuncture and massage.” Just this past September, Bocker also underwent a stem cell procedure to help alleviate his hip dysplasia and arthritis. a quick study when it came to the necessary training and was ready to launch his career within a few weeks. His first job?
Despite his joint issues and crowded schedule, Bocker is as laid back and upbeat as they get. “He never gets his curls in a knot,” smiles Marie. “He has always been very low key and even keel. He has never growled in his life. He’s a big kisser. He gets along with everyone and everything.” His calm and gentle nature makes him a natural for therapy dog work, and he often visit schools and libraries as a Tail Wagging Tutor to help children improve their reading skills. On the animal welfare side, he and Marie have worked closely with Mayor’s Alliance For NYC Animals, Best Friends Animal Society, Last Chance Animal Rescue, and many other organizations.
Now a senior, Bocker isn’t doing as many photo shoots as he used to, but that doesn’t mean his career is winding down. “We are now focusing mostly on his work with children and people with severe disabilities, and with rescue organizations and animal rights,” says Marie. “Bocker is the ‘spokesdog’ for NYS Animal Advocacy, and will be appearing on the Pet Network for the Talent Hounds upcoming episode on therapy dogs. This is very exciting because it’s a huge part of Bocker’s life now. We have also been asked to do a number of upcoming TV interviews. And Bocker was recently honored by ABC TV’s Above and Beyond for his work helping others.
“After the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, we were invited to meet with some of the children there,” Marie continues. “Bocker made such an impact on them, just by being Bocker. There’s something magical in him. We have developed such wonderful friendships in Sandy Hook/Newtown, and Bocker is invited to every event the town has. Very special!”
Bocker has built up a CV that many Hollywood celebrities would envy.
When asked what she loves most about Bocker, Marie’s answer is straightforward: “Everything! When I see how he impacts the lives of others and makes people smile, it brings me joy. I know how lucky I am to have him in my life.”
Editor’s note: In the fall of 2016, Bocker passed away from kidney failure at the age of 13. Bocker is deeply missed by all of his family, friends and fans. Our condolences go out to Marie, who aims to carry on his good works.