Picture the phrase "man's best friend," and it might look something like this:
It’s the Fourth of July. Dallas guy Todd Boyce sports stars-and-stripes socks while his 4-year-old redbone coonhound, Guidry, wears an American flag bandana around his neck. Todd saves a piece of meat from his plate of chicken and waffles and feeds it to Guidry -- after he performs a paw-five, of course.
The pooch is named after former Yankees player Ron Guidry, but his human also refers to him as “homeslice.”
In Guidry's Instagram profile picture, he's shown decked out in polarized sunglasses, heat-protectant boots and an evaporative cooling vest: truly, a cool dog. Another one of his unique features? He doesn’t bark. He bays, a howl-like sound emitted exclusively by hounds.
Boyce and Guidry are constantly exploring new spots around D-FW. Boyce straps Guidry into his safety harness in the back seat, and Guidry sticks his head out of the window, slobbering down the side of the truck. It’s not a rare sight to see; they get recognized almost every time they’re out together.
“He’s my buddy,” Boyce says. “I take him all over the place, and I just enjoy hanging out with my dog. I think the feeling's mutual. I wish he could speak English, but he certainly behaves as if the feeling were mutual.”
While Guidry’s face graces the Instagram feed delighting some 3,600 followers, he is also the face of Dog Friendly Alliance (DFA), an organization created by his human to compile a deeply detailed list of dog-friendly locations throughout the Metroplex. Boyce realized the need to address this issue after repeatedly taking Guidry places that claimed to be dog-friendly but didn’t have safety precautions like fans or cool concrete.
However, the main goal of DFA is community reintegration and socialization through emotional support and service dogs, primarily for veterans. Boyce is a Gulf War veteran, and Guidry is his emotional support dog. Twenty-percent of DFA’s revenue goes towards funding the training of emotional support and service dogs through the non-profit organizations Operation MUTT 22 and Canine Companions for Independence.
Being out on a patio with a dog is a form of emotional support, says Boyce, who is also an occupational therapist. Socializing in public helps veterans and others who might need emotional support “get back into society and realize there’s more to the world than all the stuff bouncing between [their] ears,” he says.
More photos of good boy Guidry
On DFA’s website, users can browse locations and events to attend with their dogs. They can also peep the list of DFA dogs with respectable D-FW followings, like Bill the Boston.
DFA's pack membership is open to all dogs for an annual fee ranging from $25 to $100 for titles including L'il Pup, Big Dog, Top Dog and Leader of the Pack. The membership comes with perks like discounts and a spot on the membership page. More importantly, the payment helps fund emotional support and service-dog training.
"[Guidry is] amazing, and he does alert Todd whenever Todd starts to get anxious," says Shannon Malooly, chief operations officer for DFA. "Guidry senses it, and he’ll come up and nudge him. He’s really quite an amazing animal."
In the future, Boyce plans to partner with even more local businesses and organizations to expand the inventory of their store, and, thus, funding for like-minded organizations.
Still, the growth of Guidry’s following and the organization has been an unpredictable journey. “It’s been a little bit like a pachinko ball,” Boyce says. “Which way is it gonna go now?”