How Bocker Changed My Life

One Dog, One Woman, A Road Travelled Together

Angel Bocker ©Geoffrey Tischman

By Marie Shelto

In 2003, a very special being came into my life. A pensive little pup with the most human eyes that we named Bocker. I grew up a New York Knicks fan; we had already rescued a cat and named her Knicki. So Bocker rounded out our Knickerbockers. Bocker was pensive, as if he was thinking about his next move, always calm he looked as if he was listening and trying to understand every word you were saying.

His calm demeanor made him a natural for therapy work. I was always amazed at his effect on children. Maybe it was because he was so tall that they could look right into his eyes. After the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, friends knew that Bocker could help. Bocker became part of Sandy Hook’s extended family, present at all their events. The big furry, always calm, guy, just brought smiles wherever he went.

December 2014, I heard words that sent shock waves through my whole being: “Bocker has Lymphoma.” I had no idea where to turn. The executive director of Animal Cancer Foundation, one of his followers, gave me words of support and the name of an outstanding oncologist. To me, Bocker’s quality of life was most important.

Bocker let his social media friends follow along on his journey, the good days and not so good days. As he called it, his bump in the road. He always told his followers that “No One Fights Alone.” He received thousands of messages of love and support, but what was most touching to us, were the messages from people, not only those with their pets being ill, but from humans battling cancer. Bocker gave them strength and the will to go on.

We partnered with the Animal Cancer Foundation to help find a cure for Canine Cancer. Roughly 6 million new cancer diagnoses are made in dogs and a similar number made in cats each year. 1 in 3 domestic dogs it’s estimated will develop cancer; the same incidence of cancer among men. But cancer is not a death sentence.

It was Bocker’s time to leave me at the age of 13. One of the hardest days in my life, one I dreaded; but he did not die from cancer. Bocker definitely made a huge difference in my life. I know he touched and affected the lives of so many.

Bocker Marie ©Geoffrey Tischman

A few months after Bocker passed, a little being wound up in my life. Totally unexpected, but I knew it was part of Angel Bocker’s plan. I needed to carry on his good work. It was up to me but I could not do it alone.

Now Bocker II (he’s called Bocker Jr., Baby Bocker) is by my side. The comments have started already. His EYES! Yes, totally different from Angel Bocker, but eyes that are piercing and look right through you. Different eyes but filled with the same love and same sense of wonder. Eyes that have plans and speak volumes. Angel Bocker is in there too, guiding us both.

To learn more about Bocker’s legacy, go to or email:

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