Chopper the Biker Dog dies of various health issues after full life as a therapy dog

Chopper the Biker Dog
(Image credit: Chopper the Biker Dog / Facebook)

Social media star Chopper the Biker Dog has taken his last ride. The 12-year-old Boston Terrier, who’s been delighting the residents of San Diego for over a decade, died Tuesday in his sleep.

Chopper is best known for riding around on owner Mark Shaffer’s specially adapted Harley Davidson wearing a personalised leather vest, ‘doggles’ and a bandana. Since the age of three months, Chopper has been an integral part of the community and has spent many hours visiting hospitals, nursing homes and veterans’ homes.  

He was also a popular figure at events fundraising for Downs Syndrome, Alzheimer's disease, homeless charities and the Special Olympics. Chopper has almost 150K followers on Facebook (opens in new tab) and Instagram (opens in new tab) with fans keen to keep an eye on his exploits.

Chopper has been struggling with his health since being diagnosed with Cushing’s disease in March 2019. This was followed by non-regenerative anemia, a deficiency of the red blood cells where the bone marrow is not producing sufficient levels of cells. The condition causes lethargy, jaundice and fever.  

Despite his health issues, Chopper continued with some of his public duties as owner Mark felt they were important for his mental wellbeing. In fact, when the pandemic and lockdown meant significant changes to Chopper’s routine, Mark felt his pet had gone into a decline.

In February 2021, Chopper was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor on his liver. The plucky pooch had been raising funds all his life, but now it was the turn of social media followers to look after him. Fans set up two GoFundMe pages (opens in new tab) which have raised over $18,000 to help pay for medical treatment.

Since the 2021 diagnosis, Mark has been managing Chopper’s condition carefully and reducing the number of public outings. His most recent photoshoot Monday shows him being cuddled by officers from the La Mesa Police Department, who had requested the chance to say a last goodbye.

The following day Mark posted on Instagram “I woke up. It’s 4am. My best buddy Chopper the Biker Dog laying across my bed with his head laying across my lap. Chopper has passed in his sleep. RIP Buddy. I love you.”

Distraught fans left over 1,500 comments, such as “Chopper brought us all so much joy and we are so grateful you shared him with all of us. Sending you so much love.”, and “Chopper was so special and loved and will be missed.”

As Chopper rides off into the sunset, he’s left a big hole in the hearts of the San Diego community. 

Sara is a freelance journalist and copywriter of many years’ experience with a lifelong love of animals. She’s written for a range of magazines and websites on subjects varying from pet care to travel. A horse rider since the age of five, she’s currently a full time pet slave to horse Blue and gorgeous, goofy English Springer Spaniel Olly. Adorable Olly has a huge sense of adventure and no sense of direction, keeping Sara on her toes.