Gary Graham – ROAD TREKKER

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Wednesday, December 27, 2017
Is Baja Safe?

Coci … my fish spotting dog
When I first met Coci, he was a little bundle of white fur, huddled underneath a rusty car fender in the muddy yard of a rental we owned in Southeast San Diego on a rainy day. Soggy, but personable, out he came with his tail wagging with no fear of either me or the pouring rain.

Over the next few months, I fell in love as I watched the puppy grow into a young dog. When I would stop by on the first of the month to collect the rent, the white, mostly-Bichon terrier mix with hazel eyes would race to the gate, his whole body wiggling as though to show me how happy he was to see me. It became harder and harder to leave him behind to his very dirty food bowl and often-empty water bowl.

regardlesscociREGARDLESS, COCI SECURED his reputation as an extraordinary fish spotter, and I spent many hours with my best buddy by my side.

The tenants were a couple that I had originally met when they rented the small one- bedroom house … they soon started a family and within a year they decided they needed a two-bedroom unit.

As luck and fate would have it, I suppose — we did. I gave them the address and after looking at the apartment in a complex with other units, they called to see when it would become available. They loved the spacious complex, however, pets were not allowed in the building.

They didn’t know what they would do with their pet, Coci, and I immediately offered to take him off their hands. Little did I know the role he would play in my life.

A few days later, I arranged to pick him up. Dirty and smelly, Yvonne and I took him straight to a DIY Pet Spa and bathed him several times before the water running off him was finally clean. We guessed he had never been inside a house, because we had to begin the basics of house training him when we brought him home.

Beach fishing was a big part of our lives at our Baja home, “Rancho Deluxe,” and I couldn’t wait to share it with Coci. On our first trip down together, he seemed to share my passion for the beach, racing into the water and discovering “fish.” After being coaxed onto the ATV the first time, riding with me became his right. He would leap into his “seat” — a basket I had fastened on the front, and lie in wait for me to come and start the bike for our miles of exploring and fishing the beach. Before long, Coci became a fish-loving dog who spent many hours by my side, not leaving if he had spotted anything in the water.

OVERLY EAGER, AS we were winding our fish in for a release, he would paddle out and bring the catch to shore in his mouth, dropping it at our feet.

By the time we began offering guided trips to our Baja on the Fly anglers, Coci had become quite at home on the beach and in the water. He developed his own set of fish-spotting skills, and stood at attention at the very least commotion in the water, sometimes leaping from his perch in the basket, barking and racing toward the feeding fish within a few feet of shore if I was driving away.

When clients or I hooked a fish, Coci would be at our feet coaching us along. However, Coci didn’t always share the “catch and release” ethic. Overly eager, as we were winding our fish in for a release, he would paddle out and bring the catch to shore in his mouth, dropping it at our feet.

Regardless, Coci secured his reputation as an extraordinary fish spotter, and I spent many hours with my best buddy by my side.

He never had to be told it was time to head for the beach in the morning nor did I have to find him for trips in the evening. Often, he would already be in his basket while I still had coffee or a drink in hand, waiting for me. He was perfectly willing to spend as much time as I was on the beach, never leaving my side until the last fish was spotted or the evening turned to night.

Even as he aged, his enthusiasm for the Baja beaches we prowled together never waned.

Back on our beloved porch as the silence of the warm Baja night wrapped around us, an exhausted Coci would sprawl on his belly on the cool terrazzo floor, surveying his kingdom.

Yvonne and I chuckle over the number of photos our clients and visitors had taken of our marvelous “Fish Spotting Coci” … he even had a full page in “The Drake” magazine! Not many anglers can boast of that!

Both Coci and Rancho Deluxe have been gone for many years now but he left behind memories that are priceless. We are so very fortunate to have shared a few years of our lives with Coci!

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