April 12, 2010
Posted: 05:58 PM ET
DUANE 'DOG' CHAPMAN WILL BE LARRY'S GUEST TONIGHT! WATCH AT 9PM ET!
Editor’s note: In his new book, Duane Chapman – known to millions of his fans as “Dog the Bounty Hunter” – opens up about the past few years of his life: the drama surrounding his use of a derogatory word and fall out from his son recording it and selling it to a tabloid, the personal stories of addiction and death of his daughter, the bond he shares with his family and how he draws strength from them…and for them.
Dog spoke by phone to Larry King Live blog about the book, about what has been happening in his life and his future plans. The following is an edited transcript of that conversation.
LKL BLOG: The name of the new book – “Where Mercy is Shown, Mercy is Given”…have you been shown mercy?
Dog: I’ve been shown mercy many times in my life, correct.
LKL BLOG: You were very personal in the book about what you’ve gone through in the past few years – the legal troubles, the financial troubles, the family betrayals. For you to put that all out there, how difficult was that for you?
Dog: Well, it’s difficult, but once it’s out there, the healing process can start to begin. I think this book goes into, you know, the ups and downs and where we land and how we land and it all depends how high you’re held up is how hard you go down.
LKL BLOG: How hard did you go down?
Dog: All the way brother, all the way. Except for death. Death you know is the final down but almost that far.
I mean, psychologically, I think I was at the point of no return. The lowest is no return. Just what was happening after the drug years and when I was straightened up and cool and been there for 20 years, you have such devastating blows emotionally and psychologically – it almost got to me.
LKL BLOG: How does it not get to you?
Dog: You know I don’t know. Of course I believe a lot of what the Bible says and I use it as a guide. And the Bible says that God will not give you anything that you can’t handle. He won’t take you to the bitter edge, he will let you yourself go to the edge but it does say that he will never give you too much.
LKL BLOG: Do you think you’ve handled everything you’ve been given well?
Dog: I think I’ve handled everything I’ve been given very well, yes. You know there’s more ups than there is downs but you need to, like I said, explain the downs–how in the world did I get back up? And in order to do that you need to say where you were in an emotional time in my life.
LKL BLOG: What do you want people to take away from this book? Why would you put all this stuff out there?
Dog: Well when you, I’ve noticed in my life when I’m down and out and I need a friend, a boost, some kind of spiritual uplifting that I noticed that I would feel sorry for myself or think things were bad. And I’d see someone else going through something twice as bad. And I’d think problems are so minute compared to what that person is going through right now – and I take that and build strength from that.
So I want the book to show some of the things I went through. And if I can get through those triumphantly and successfully, then I kind of lay a path for someone who doesn’t know me personally on an everyday basis to be able to use that as a guide in their life.
So I’m trying to lay a path down that people can follow.
LKL Blog: You talk about your daughter Barbara [who struggled with addiction and who died in a car accident] and you say you literally loved her to death.
Dog: Yes, I did.
LKL BLOG: Are you hoping it’s also a cautionary tale for people to see some of themselves in what you’ve gone through?
Dog: You know it’s very hard to speak about when you lose a loved one and one of the things of course for many, many years besides my mother, I had never lost a child. I did years ago when [Dog’s son, who died] Zebadiah was only 28, 30 days old but that was 30 years ago. But to go through that is horrific.
A lot of people never ever come out of it. A lot of people never recuperate or recover from the death of a child and I always felt bad for those people and I didn’t know what to say.
When I went through it I realized that maybe some of the reason I went through it was to be able to help others when they have to go through something like that to get through it successfully.
The only reason I ever talked about that in the book was for that reason. I think that I was put here not only to be the greatest bounty hunter, but there’s got to be something else now. You know once I’ve conquered that, once I’ve set the record you know, come and get the title, you never will. So that’s done and now there’s more.
And more is…how did you get through that? What did you do? What did you say? What did you feel like? And that is more now of a message of life of how to get through things.
I’ve had parents come up to me and tell me wonderful things after they’ve heard the story about Barbara. You know nothing will bring her back and nothing will ever fix it, but it softens the every day that you think about your baby that you lost.
LKL BLOG: People seem to connect with you. Are you surprised by that?
Dog: [Laughs]. I’ve been saving this in my own mind since I was seven. And I don’t mean to sound haughty because I’m not haughty, but I felt I that I could tap into all ages, all demographics. I always wanted to be like that. You know when Dog speaks people listen. Dog knows the way. You know so I appreciate it and I love it but I’m not caught off guard by it, no.
LKL BLOG: The book is dedicated to “anyone I offended with my mouth.” I guess that ties into what happened a few years ago with you [Dog was recorded by his son using the “N” word, which caused a lot of controversy]. You said that you “would never utter that word again ever.” Have you?
Dog: No. My lawyer said not to say that.
He said, “What if you make a mistake?” I said, “I cannot afford mistakes.”
You know, I have so many people that look up to me, I got to do it. And in order to do that I needed to get the book out there and I needed to start. And I started after it happened, but I need to finally say, that’s was “N-Dog.” That was the guy that used that word years ago. You know he’s probably the last white guy that ever said that because we really kicked his ass for it. He learned a lesson.
LKL BLOG: Are you a better person now because of that?
Dog: Yes I feel very relieved. And I feel that, I don’t know if I am a better person morally. I feel that I’m more a learned person.
You know, I have knowledge. So I think I’m more – can I say educated – about people’s feelings and you know the Bible says that the tongue is the most unruly member of the body. It also says when you learn to control that God says you won’t believe what you can do with your words.
LKL BLOG: You’d love to be appointed Czar of Criminal Justice by President Obama.
Dog: Yes. Who better than me? When I was young they put me in prison, they gave me a hammer said, “See that big rock? Make it a little one.” This is your punishment. The prison where I’m from said, “you’re not here to be rehabilitated, you’re here for punishment. If you do that again you’re coming back.”
And I don’t know any – pardon the expression – “ex-con” that has made it so far and I am the poster child for rehabilitation. So to be that you must know the criminal justice system inside and out.
I’ve been to almost every state in America arresting people out of their state. I know their laws, their streets, their backstreets. I know that. I know what sentencing does. I know what rehabilitation after you get out does. I know what burglar alarms do.
I’m sure that I could save millions of dollars—millions of dollars in America’s criminal justice system. When criminals break the law, we the taxpayers, need to make money on them.
If you’re going to come in my world where I try to be straight every day and take my stuff you’re going to pay me back. Not like just being in prison where I know for the next ten years he’s going to be fed and he’s locked up. I want my money back.
I can save America millions of dollars. We have not changed laws since what the 30s? There are laws on the book that are a waste of time. We have 60 percent of prisons filled with meth addicts and heroin addicts? Come on. Those guys are sick.
There needs to be a federal watchdog for every state for excessive sentencing.
LKL BLOG: Have you spoken with anyone in the administration about these things?
Dog: You know I have in the last administration…but this one no, because I am so busy right now. I would love that though, I’ve got to go somewhere besides just bounty hunting.
LKL BLOG: Well maybe President Obama will read this blog.
Dog: I didn’t put this in the book and I’ve never said this, so I’m going to say it. I’ve always wondered: is it true that one man can change the world, make a difference?
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