This fall, Dog the Bounty Hunter star Beth Chapman she was diagnosed with throat cancer. While fans watched, both on social media and on an A&E special, Beth and her husband, Duane "Dog" Chapman, for support and strength during her — and .
But this wasn't the first time the couple dealt with a setback — not by a long shot. The Chapmans have endured ups and downs in their lives, from being married to other people to substance abuse and issues with the law. But through it all they have stuck together — and are stronger than ever. Here's just a sample of their love story, as they have told it in the press, on their show, and in Dog's memoirs.
In 1988, Beth met Dog for the first time when she was just 19 and he was 35. They met after she got in trouble with the law. She told Rosie O'Donnell on her OWN show in 2011 that she was working for a lawmaker at the time, and was in the grocery store when she had to take a call from her boss. She walked out of the grocery store holding a lemon, and got nabbed for so-called "shoplifting" said lemon. But she also had an unregistered, unlicensed gun in her pocket, which she had taken from her then-boyfriend after he got drunk, and on top of that she had an arrest warrant for unpaid parking tickets, Dog wrote in his memoir, .
Beth's father called Dog to bail her out of jail. But Beth refused to go to Dog's office to do paperwork — until he threatened to put her back behind bars if she didn't comply. But as soon as she showed up and saw what he looked like, she knew he was the guy for her. "He came walking out there, and I said, 'Oh yes, he will be mine.' Let the stalking begin," she told O'Donnell.
Dog's impression was similar, if a bit more superficial. "Blam. In she comes. I knew she was young — too young for me," he wrote in his book. "I was never one of those older guys who went for the young girls. But damn. Those breasts. I know what you're thinking. I'm an idiot, right?" But Dog was married at the time, and said he tried to avoid her.
Beth wasn't too happy about that, and did whatever she could to be around Dog — even "borrowing" a car from a dealership to follow him around. That decision led her to a six-month stint behind bars, and while she was there she referred inmates to Dog so he could write their bonds. By the time she was out, Dog had separated from his wife, but he was dating his secretary, who would become his fourth wife.
That didn't deter Beth, who started working in the bond business. She said in a from Dog the Bounty Hunter that she took the test to get a bail license in order to win Dog's heart. She became the ever to get a bail license in Colorado until her stepdaughter, Lyssa, beat her record at just 19. Dog wrote in You Can Run, But You Can't Hide that Beth would take risky cases so she could call Dog to track down people who skipped bail. And Dog would recruit her for bounties if he "needed a brain or a beautiful young girl to act as a decoy," he wrote.
Beth also got married, to Dog's old friend, Keith Barmore, but Dog and Beth were still seeing one another. "I was the other woman through three wives. Two wives, and one really good girlfriend," Beth told O'Donnell.
After Dog's mother died in 1995, he started dealing with substance abuse and health issues; he had separated from his wife in 1994 and was dating another woman, who he said had made his drug habit even worse. When he hit rock bottom, he called Beth, and she flew from Denver, where she lived, to Hawaii, where Dog lived. She kicked his girlfriend out of the house and tried to give Dog some tough love, but he ended up kicking her out. "I lost track of everything that was important in my life," he wrote. "I didn't care about work, my business, or myself." They didn't speak for six months.
Eventually, Dog moved to Denver to be near his sister, and he and Beth tried to avoid one another for a while. But then fate brought them together. "One day, we were both standing in the alley behind the houses on bail bonds row. It was like a scene from a movie," he wrote in You Can Run, But You Can't Hide. "I looked at her and she at me. By the time Beth got to the back of the alley I was already by her side. I grabbed her and put the most passionate kiss on her."
Dog and his children moved into Beth's house, but Dog was still using drugs and had health problems, including kidney stones. "If Beth hadn't saved me, I'm not sure I would have survived those years," he wrote in You Can Run, But You Can't Hide. By 1997, Dog was off drugs and the two of them started growing their bail bonds business.
Over the next few years, they grew their business together, and by 2003, Dog started making media appearances about the fugitive cosmetics heir Andrew Luster. A few days after he made waves on camera, he decided he would go on the hunt for Luster. Beth took the lead when it came to research, and to make sure all their methods were legit. While the two were apart, he wore a gold ring around his thumb, and she wore an identical ring, with diamonds around it.
Shortly after filming the pilot for Dog the Bounty Hunter, Dog captured Luster, after hunting him for six months. The high-profile case made Dog even more famous, but took a toll on his relationship with Beth. "We've been researching for him. We have ate, slept and drank this person for six months," Beth told . "I've hardly seen my husband. He missed Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day."
Dog the Bounty Hunter premiered on A&E in 2003, which followed Dog and Beth as they balanced family life with running their bail bond business. The show was a hit, and turned Dog and Beth into household names as cameras followed both their business and personal lives.
In 2005, Dog proposed to Beth for the first time in Las Vegas, and they would have gotten married on the spot had they made it to the courthouse on time to get a license. "If time wasn't a factor, I would have married her in a tacky Vegas chapel that night," he wrote in You Can Run, But You Can't Hide. "To this day, Beth still isn't convinced I would have gone through with it."
After that, Dog kept asking Beth to pick a wedding date, and they decided on May 20, 2006. "Our youngest children had begun to ask us why we weren't married," Dog wrote in his book, . "And Beth was being referred to as my 'life partner' or 'sidekick.' Those descriptions weren't fair to her, either. In my heart, I always knew Beth would be my forever wife. It was time to make it official."
But the day before the wedding, tragedy struck. Dog's daughter, Barbara Katy Chapman, died in a car accident near her home in Fairbanks, Alaska, according to . She was not going to attend the wedding because she was struggling with substance abuse. Dog sat with a minister and his 10 surviving children to decide whether to proceed with the ceremony. "They all decided unanimously they should celebrate the wedding and her life," Michael Feeney, senior vice president of A&E television network, told the AP.
So on May 20, Dog and Beth were married in a sunset ceremony at the Hilton Waikoloa Village on the Big Island of Hawaii. Dog wore a white leather vest, white jeans, boots, and American Indian jewelry, despite Beth's request for a tuxedo, and Beth wore an off-white lace gown designed by Eduardo Lucero. They gave dog tags as favors that read: "Dog & Beth. Captured. May 20, 2006." In the wedding special of Dog the Bounty Hunter, Beth that Dog kept bounty hunting, even the night of their rehearsal dinner.
In 2012, Dog the Bounty Hunter was canceled after eight seasons on A&E. "This has been a great ride for eight seasons and we would not be where we are today but for our loyal and dedicated fans," the couple said in a statement, according to . "We are about to start a new chapter, and an announcement will be made sooner rather than later. You can't keep a good Dog down."
Later that year, they moved to CMT for the show Dog and Beth: On the Hunt. But in 2016, the couple , ending the series after three seasons to support Beth's bid for the president of the Professional Bail Agents of the United States. She ended up winning the election.
That next year, in September 2017, Dog and Beth faced another setback. that Beth was diagnosed with Stage 2 throat cancer. "I will fight every step of the way," she reportedly wrote in a letter to loved ones. "My husband and children are counting on me to be there for years to come." She to remove a plum-sized tumor from her neck.
By the end of November, fans got some good news. On an A&E special, , Dog got the news that Beth is now cancer-free. "There is a God. This could be a miracle. This could be a healing," he said in the special. "[The doctor] said if I wasn't such a good husband it wouldn't have worked out that great. Oh, I can breathe. Beth Chapman, you did it."