Not Just Another Blonde Dog

Blondie chasing birds!

Blondie chasing birds!

“Not Just a Blonde Dog”

I didn’t set out to find a dog. They all found me.

Two came with the house I bought in Mexico.  Another wandered in a few weeks later.

And then there were the two straggly mutts that had made ‘camp’ on the porch of the empty house across the street.  They were small dogs, about the size of miniature poodles, with long matted hair.  One was dark to light grey,  the other a dirty blonde.

For the first few days, I kept chasing them back to the porch.  The three other dogs were already eating through large bags of kibble and I was still learning to navigate bark-bark instead of meow (I’d been a cat person my entire life).

When the blonde showed up one afternoon with bird feet hanging out of her mouth, I was hooked.  Anyone little dog hungry enough to catch flying food was cunning enough to win me over.  Her grey partner trailed in behind her.

But ugh.  Such dirty tangled messes.  Steve and I got out shampoo, the hose and scissors and whacked away at the knots that bound their legs and shoulders.  Soon, they were oddly trimmed with some gapping fur holes, but bouncier and lighter – and definitely cleaner – for the ordeal.  Steve immediately named them Blondie and Buster, and two good friends entered our lives.

The story’s been told, but again I’ll mention that Steve believed that both dogs were fixed.  When vioila, our neighbor, Jeanne, found Blondie and Buster happily ‘at it’, and soon there-after the Blonde became a kind of football shape, his lessons in anatomy proved to be sorely lacking.  On schedule and in Jeanne’s back yard (we were in the States), Blondie gave birth to six puppies.  Five lived through the night and into full rough and tough, growl and pounce, rip and shred puppydom.

We found homes for all of them.  Three were going to the States and two were staying with families in Mexico.  Which was perfect, until Buster went chasing after a car – and the car won.  Sadly, I buried him in the vacant lot next to some of his predecessors.  Even with partial adoption, beach living can be a hard life.

His death sealed the deal on a puppy for us, and Buster Jr. became the ‘go-dog’ traveling north to the states and back south to Loreto.  He is the light of my life, and a smile maker for all those who meet him.

A few weeks after he’d moved north, Steve became worried about the Blonde.  Even though she still had her big dog friends, was fed regularly, and hung out with Jeanne, she was a little girl dog who was kind of on her own.  Steve decided she should also move to Laguna.

Friend Alexander said that she died and went to wood floors.  Blondie flourished here in ways I had never expected.  At first, she had no idea at all what to do with a toy.  It was only in recent weeks that she finally figured out to grab the other end of her son’s stuffed animal and pull back.  She wasn’t quite ready to chase a ball, but she loved it when Buster did.  She’d jump on his back and ride around while he rolled it from room to room.  Blondie adjusted well to leash walks and even had a personal groomer at Animal Crackers.  In fact, Blondies’ picture graced this newspaper two weeks ago, in an article about the rescue efforts of Gina and her shop.

Her heart, though, was always on the shores of Loreto.  Blondie continued to be an avid hunter – both of land birds and those of the sea.  More than once I had swum after her when she had pinned a small grebe in her sights and could not be dissuaded from pursuing it.  Once, she had swum so far – nearly a mile – that I could hardly see her.  Terrified that she would drown, I tossed off shoes and shorts and swam to grab my precious golden bundle.  When I reached her she kind of looked at me like – Hey?  Where are we anyway? Then settled on top of my chest while I backstroked back to shore.  She would run and jump down the long pebbly beaches, always the first at the door for her daily walk.

Last week, I was in the process of installing wires across the fence to keep the dogs in the yard and prevent them from chasing cars – something I think, that must be in their genes.  The back gates were finished and we were just about to start on the front.  I heard the other dogs bark.  The screen was open and I yelled at Steve to grab Blondie.  She streaked past me a white ball of racing fur.  I screamed “Blondie!” and the driver of the police car patrolling the beachfront looked straight at me.  She was all bark-bark-bark, then thump.  Then no bark.  Her little body lay in a crumpled heap not more than 5’ from where her husband had died.

I bured her next to Buster Sr. under the tree in the vacant lot and the watchful eye of St. Francis’ statue.  She died where she had started, doing what she loved.  Running free.

Blondie was a princess and a Bajanese.

Catharine Cooper is dog mom to Buster – and half-mom to Shorty, Diego and Ruby.  She can be reached at

Pescadores Vigilantes

On June 1, 2009, the foundation for “Pescadores Vigilantes” (vigilant fishermen) was established in Loreto, BCS.  To address issues concerning conservation of the fishing industry and the National Marine Park, local commercial and sport fishermen were invited to a meeting sponsored by Eco-Alianza de Loreto. Participation was strong as over 100 responses were received by the organizers.

The meeting was held at Mediterraneo Restaurant to coincide with the celebration of Mariner’s Day. Laura Escobosa, the Director of Eco-Alianza, was introduced by Pam Bolles of Baja Big Fish, who expressed her thanks for organizing the event. The purpose of the evening was to communicate the need for the fisherman to work together to protect the sea and thus their livelihood.  Fishing is one of the economic pillars in the community of Loreto, and protecting the sea must be seen as “good business” by everyone. The meeting was designed to create solutions that will insure the stability of the local industry.

Conservation regulations are in place in the Loreto National Marine Park, but there is little enforcement and insufficient resources to protect the area.  Local fishermen complain of the fleets from Sinaloa that drain the resource without permit or conscience, but there seems to be no one to stop them.  Loretano commercial and sport fishers pay fees and licenses that are not charged to those from outside areas.  American sport fishers are often overloaded with guests – and fish without permits that local charter companies are required to purchase.  The system is unjust and not well managed.

Pescadores Vigilantes is designed to address these issues.  Acting as one, instead of isolated voices, is it hoped the local fisherman will be able to increase the weight of their ideas and establish a more powerful position in the future of their industry.

At the heart of the formation of the group is a vehicle for reporting illegal activities.
One of the previous stumbling blocks has been a fear of identification and possible retribution, but channels are now in place to provide complete anonymity.  Fishermen can make a simple phone call or visit the office of Eco-Alianza to report illegal activities, with complete assurance that their names will never be revealed.

Protection of the Park and its resources is everyone’s responsibility – those who live in Loreto and those who visit.  But it is the fishermen, who are on the water daily, who must assume a leadership role.

The Park and all its beauty cannot defend itself against human intrusion as environmental abuses such as dumping of trash, oils, paints and other waste products – both at sea and on land – threaten the health of the marine life.  As the sea becomes over-fished and polluted, the ecosystem will collapse, and the economic effects on Loreto will be devastating.

To further support the Pescadores Vigilantes, Eco-Alianza pledged to develop a clearly delineated map of fishing zones and no-take areas, plus  produce a simple version of current regulations and guidelines inside the park, using information from the recently generated “Ordenamiento Pesquero”.

The meeting provided an opportunity for the fisherman to share their ideas and develop an on-going dialog.  Ms. Escobosa sat with several of the attendees after her presentation, and listened to their questions and suggestions.  They expressed a willingness to help with surveillance, but more than that, they wanted their voices to be taken into consideration when decisions about the future of Loreto are made.  As fishermen, they understand their importance to the tourist economy.

Some of their other ideas included having a booth at the Marina open from 6 AM to 6 PM where visitors could purchase FONMAR fishing licenses and CONANP bracelets.  Currently, nothing is available until after 9 AM.

There was an extended conversation about limiting the number of fishing permits that are available.  If the number were fixed, that would limit outside fishing interests from taking from the park.  Permits could then be sold or inherited by relatives.  This is a technique that has been proven to work as a conservation tool in Canada and Alaska.

Some of the fishermen in attendance included: Loreto Velis Murillo, Alejandro Davis, Victor Manuel Villalejo, Ramon Mayoral Baeza, José Luis Davis Meza, and Octavio Acosta.

It is hoped that different leaders in the community will emerge after the event, and that strategies can be developed to strengthen the fishing sector. A follow up meeting is planned in three months.