Pdf: Memorandum and Order of Court Raw Video: 'Boomer The Dog' Walks The Streets Photos: Anthrocon 2010 Convention In Pittsburgh Photos: Anthrocon 2009 In Pittsburgh
"It would be the last step of completion. Everybody has a personality they nurture and grow as a person. It would be great to have the name to get everything together," said Mathews.
Mathews said he filed for the name change in June because he's a fan of a short-lived 1980s NBC television series called "Here's Boomer," which featured a dog that rescued people.
Common Pleas Judge Ronald Folino denied the request in a 1 1/2-page ruling late Wednesday. He said it could result in "confusion in the marketplace," including in business records and public documents, and could have more serious consequences.
If Mathews, 44, were to witness a serious vehicle crash and call for help, for example, the name could confuse an emergency dispatcher, the judge said.
"The dispatcher on the phone queries as to the caller's identity, and the caller responds, 'This is Boomer the Dog,"' the judge wrote. "It is not a stretch to imagine the telephone dispatcher concluding that the call is a prank and refusing to send an emergency medical response."
Mathews, of Green Tree, said other kids in high school began to call him Boomer and by adulthood he was dressing as the shaggy-haired dog at conventions and parties, for the last few years in a full-size Boomer suit made of shredded paper.
Mathews also is an enthusiast of Anthrocon, an annual convention of people dedicated to anthropomorphism, the practice of attributing human characteristics to animals. The convention has been held in Pittsburgh for five summers.
After years of thinking about the name change, Mathews early this year began the legal process, which included getting his fingerprints checked through a state police criminal records database.
"It took some time to work up the nerve," Mathews said. "I treated it like a science project. Somebody's going to look at this and say, 'This guy's crazy.' I think some folks thought that before. But once they get to know me, I'm OK."
During Wednesday's hearing, the judge questioned Mathews as to whether he might just change his first name to Boomer and if he had been paid to perform as the dog.
The unemployed computer technician, who's single, said he had not been paid "but it would be nice if I would be."