Bettie the Boston Terrier, 9, Was a Neighborhood Paper’s Best Friend

Bettie liked to carry each new issue of Chelsea Now, and the protective wrap supplied by Chris Dietz kept it crisp all the way home (file photo from Dec. 2015). Chelsea Now file photo by Yannic Rack.

BY JACKSON CHEN | From the corner of the bed, Bettie the Boston Terrier would perk up, letting her owner know that she was ready for a walk around the neighborhood. Chris Dietz, 53, would then wrangle Bettie into her leash before heading down their sixth floor apartment at NYCHA’s Elliott-Chelsea Houses at W. 27th St.

But Bettie, 9, took her last walk on July 4 as she passed away shortly after at around 3 a.m., according to Dietz. Heartbroken by the loss, Dietz said he couldn’t stay in the apartment for long periods, so he walked their route instead.

“She meant a lot to a lot of people around here, a lot of people in the neighborhood started crying,” Dietz said, when he informed them of the tragic news. “They all know her from carrying the paper.”

Dietz and his family first adopted Bettie several years ago when his niece’s friend was having a baby and felt it necessary to find the terrier a new home.

“Ever since that, she’s been with me all the time,” Dietz said. “We spend all of our time together, I’m the one who fed her, took her for walks, gave her baths, took her to the park.”

Chris Dietz, outside his apartment complex, rereading a Chelsea Now article that featured Bettie. Photo by Jackson Chen

Dietz usually started the walk with a quick grocery store run at W. 28th St. and Ninth Ave. before stopping by the corner news boxes where he grabbed several copies of Chelsea Now. Like clockwork, he sleeved it up in a transparent plastic wrap before Bettie would yank it out of his grip with her mouth. Bettie’s love of Chelsea Now dates back several years after she grabbed the first edition of the newspaper.

“I’m walking like this and she just grabs it out of my hand,” Dietz recalled, illustrating the swaying motion of his arm with a newspaper in hand. “I guess she saw it moving, she just grabbed it and she held it until we got home.”

Ever since that, the news-hungry hound has become a neighborhood icon. Dietz explained that the newspaper has even become part of Bettie.

“It’s funny ’cause if she got the paper, she walks like she has a job to do,” Dietz said. “If she doesn’t have the paper, she would just mope.”

Dietz stands outside the Kiehl’s that Bettie used to frequently run into on her own for treats and affections from the staff. Photo by Jackson Chen.

With her favorite newspaper stuffed in her mouth, Bettie was ready for the catwalk down 10th Ave. As they walked, tourists and locals alike greeted Bettie and snapped pics of the photogenic pup. But it’s not always a free pass, Dietz said, as Bettie would sometimes trade a photo op for a tummy rub (she rolled over once the photos were done).

The midway point of their walk, the Kiehl’s at 400 W. 14th St., Bettie would immediately peer into the glass door, waiting for an opportunity to dash inside. Dietz used to chat with some of the street vendors on the corner while Bettie was already eager to dive into the cosmetics store.

“As soon as the door was open, she just flew in with all her love,” Devena Santori, one of the managers at Kiehl’s, said. “We have our treats behind our register so she knew exactly where to get them.”

Santori knew Bettie for more than a year but her staff and customers had long been accustomed to the lively dog hanging out in the store. Whether she made a beeline for the treats, rehydrated with the dog bowl, or sprawled out in the shade of the store, Bettie was always a welcome addition to the Kiehl’s.

“She always ran in here really excited and happy,” Santori said, tearing up. “She’s going to be super missed. I don’t think we’ll ever have another mascot like that again.”

Bettie at home. Photo courtesy Tracy Colon.

After Kiehl’s, Dietz and Bettie would hit the road again, this time looping back up on Ninth Ave. But it was no different, as many stopped to greet Bettie. Dietz recalled that a whole tour bus group came out to snap photos of the lovable pooch. And as they approached their home, her celebrity status continued with the neighbors who greeted Bettie, specifically Victoria Mojica, who nicknamed the terrier “Bettie Boop.”

“She’s always been such a sweetheart,” Mojica said. “She would always carry her Chelsea newspaper, all the time, no matter where or what.”

But today’s walk was much quieter as the smiles were replaced with tears recalling Bettie’s memory. Even for Dietz, it was hard to forget Bettie’s larger than life personality.

“Like I said, I can’t stay upstairs, so I walk around,” Dietz said. “I bumped into somebody today, and he goes, ‘You walked past me four times, where’s your dog?’ and I said my dog passed away and he even started crying.”

The photo that graced the front page of that Dec. 2015 issue shows Bettie in her iconic stance. File photo by Yannic Rack.