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GARDEN FANATIC:A dog’s life can be fortunate

“Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.”

"” Robert A. Heinlein

“Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.”

"” Roger Caras


The foamy waters of the Pacific reached out to caress my feet with each replicating wave, thin strands of sea grass sliding between my toes.

I walked south from a deserted Main Beach. the sunrise nearly an hour away. I quickened my pace to numb my sense of loss, Catharine’s loss. Our dog, Buster, was gone.

Buster was the man of our doggie family, his big heart and courage evident despite his thin frame.

Part miniature poodle and part terrier (our friend, Eve, called him a cockapoo from his photos), he and his girlfriend, Blondie, came into our lives a year ago in Loreto.


Tattered, hungry and without resources, they quickly became members of our dog family (I’ve always been a cat guy, but I must admit that dogs require only love, food, and water to become a friend for life).

Buster came to lead us, along with our four, female dogs, on our beach walks whenever we were in Baja.

Mindful of strangers and strays, he kept a watchful eye over his girlfriends, provided security for our home, and met our gazes with the assurance that he loved us.

Our dog walks may have deprived us of bird watching (none of our family met a bird they didn’t want to meet), but dogs were bred to walk and help their masters stay in shape. I now understand why dogs prefer to be unencumbered by leash, as Buster and his girls would joyously run and leap and swim with boundless energy.

Unlike Laguna, the beach walk in Loreto consists of gravelly sand, with an amazing backdrop of the Sierra de la Giganta reaching toward the sky. The water is clear and warm, and the sea meets the beach with a gentle lapping sound. The cardon, ocotillo, and cholla unmistakably thrive a few meters from the water, a true study in contrast and contradiction.

The environment is harsh, and can be brutally hot during the summer.

But beach dogs persevere and learn to avoid the spines of cacti and the howls of coyotes.

They cool themselves and eliminate insects by swimming in the ocean and rolling in the sand. It’s a dog’s life... but a good one for the fortunate.


The past year with Buster consisted of many hellos and goodbyes, by virtue of his masters living mainly elsewhere. There also were trips to the vet, he riding shotgun while I bought beer and tortillas, and the collar and nametag that he wore proudly, showing that he belonged.

When asked why I liked Loreto, I often would reply that I loved seeing my dogs (and I really meant it). Life transitions, and my inability to ascertain Buster and Blondie’s reproductive capabilities meant a litter of five puppies in May.

And you know what, one looks just like Buster and I know he’ll love to walk the beach with me, just like his dad. See you next time.

  • STEVE KAWARATANI is happily married to award winning writer, Catharine Cooper, and has two cats and five dogs. He can be reached at (949) 497-8168, or e-mail to