Every Dog Has Its Day

What was it about this particular pooch? His limpid brown eyes? His fetchingly droopy ears? His legendarily mellow demeanor? Or his slobbery affinity for peanut butter? Certainly the height differential alone would seem to make the basset hound an unlikely pick for a predator.

The dog isn't talking, and neither is Gustavo Castanon, the Denver Municipal Animal Shelter volunteer who last week was sentenced to two years' probation after he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor animal cruelty. Specifically, to enticing a basset hound to perform oral sex.

Back on September 22, Castanon was working as a dog-walker when he was caught with his pants down — and the basset hound up — behind the facility. He's currently in Denver County Jail on an immigration hold; if Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials don't pick him up, he'll be subject to surprise visits from probation officers to make sure he's staying away from animals.

But the object of his affections is already safe. Doug Kelley, director of the animal shelter, says that after the incident, the basset hound was sent to a rescue group. "We didn't want the stigma to stick with the dog," he explains, adding that the hound has since been adopted.

And in the future, animal lovers — even those whose love is completely pure — will have a tougher time getting gigs at the shelter. In order to avoid further faux paws, Kelley says that potential volunteers will be subject to the same background check that would-be staffers must undergo.

It's a dog-eat-Dog world: Another mutt who's had a ruff time of it lately is Duane "Dog" Chapman, the star of A&E's Dog the Bounty Hunter. That show was put on perma-hold after the National Enquirer released a taped phone conversation in which Chapman, a Denver native, dropped more N-bombs than a washed-up Seinfeld actor. "My sincerest heartfelt apologies go out to every person I have offended for my regrettable use of very inappropriate language," said the bounty hunter, who now lives in Hawaii.

Dog may have used more questionable language in his 2007 autobiography, You Can Run But You Can't Hide. Specifically, the entirety of the sections that describe riding Harleys, doing drugs and robbing Washington Park hippies in the late 1960s and early 1970s as a member of the local biker gang Devil's Disciples. According to the book, for some of those escapades Dog rode alongside members of another Denver gang, the Hades Heads. But according to Tony Manchego, former president of the Hades Heads and now a mental-health technician at Denver's Pier 1 drug-rehab center, "It's all lies."

For one thing, there was no gang called Devil's Disciples — just the Disciples, a California crew that relocated to Denver in the 1960s. "We shadowed in the footsteps of the Disciples," says Manchego, whose Hades Heads roamed Denver's streets in 1968 and 1969. "We were just out robbing people, stealing bikes, messing around."

And Manchego insists that neither gang wanted anything to do with Dog: "We thought he was a rat." But that didn't stop the young pup. "He was telling everybody in the neighborhood he was part of our gang," Manchego says of Chapman. "We'd hear about it, and the minute we'd run into him on the street, we'd kick his ass. One time we took his pants and his boots and made him walk home without them."

Every Dog has his day.

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