In grade school they often called me “Marty Farty.” In high school I was “Farty Pecker.” Four years later veterinary school I was “Dr. Disco” as I played the dance tunes on a record player at school functions. In my almost four decades of practice, clients often call me “Doc” or “Dr. B,” and I’ve adopted the name Dr. Oz gave me, “America’s Veterinarian.” (I’ll still answer if you call me Farty.)
I was born and raised in potato country on a small family farm/ranch in Southern Idaho. We had dairy and beef cattle, horses, sheep, pigs, chickens, and of course, dogs and cats. Our cats were mostly feral and lived in the shadows of the haystacks and farm buildings. Until about the time of the Beatles invasion of the USA and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, all of the Becker dogs – two Labrador Retrievers and a Toy Manchester Terrier – were outdoor-only dogs.
I went to veterinary school to become a dairy practitioner, but after listening to an amazing introductory talk from Dean Leo Bustad about the human animal bond, I switched to a companion animal focus the first hour of the first day of veterinary school. Dean Bustad took a special interest in me, and I not only got a great veterinary medical education at Washington State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, but I became privy to and partners with his pioneering work with the human-animal bond and the human-animal health connection.
Upon graduation from veterinary school in 1980, my beloved wife, Teresa, (who I first met in our fraternity but married my junior year of veterinary school) and I moved back to where I was born in Southern Idaho. I practiced there for about a decade. Over the course of the next almost four decades, I owned or co-owned seven veterinary hospitals, lectured to veterinarians on six continents, became an adjunct professor at three colleges of veterinary medicine, wrote 25 books (selling over 8 million copies with three New York Times bestsellers), my most recent being “From Fearful to Fear Free: A Positive Program to Free Your Dog from Anxiety, Fears, and Phobias” which I co-authored with Dr. Lisa Radosta, Mikkel Becker and Wailani Sung. In 1997, after 17 years living in arid Southern Idaho, we moved to Northern Idaho near the town of Bonners Ferry, where Teresa was born and raised.
For the last 20 years we’ve lived deep in the woods, half way up a mile-high mountain in extreme Northern Idaho on a horse ranch dubbed “Almost Heaven Ranch” by my wife, which reflects our family’s deep faith. We share the ranch with five horse, five dogs, three cats, and not often enough, one grandchild, our precious seven-year-old Reagan.
I’ve always had compassion for and a deep love of all animals. I’m now leading an amazing group of dedicated professionals on the Fear Fear Advisory Group, with a goal of changing the entire ecosystem of many animals, starting with dogs, cats, and other companion animals. By looking after both a pet’s physical and emotional wellbeing, and really walking the talk that they are family members, I’ve finally completed that journey that began in the barnyard and ended up on the pillow next to my head.