When I first met Bruno, he was tied up on a short line in the corner of a yard in Abreojos, Baja California. The house belonged to a lady named Maria, who smiled warmly and invited me inside to enjoy her delicious homemade ﬁsh plates. Abreojos is a typical Mexican ﬁshing village with only one ‘’restaurant’’ and no tourist attractions to speak of — but it is a damn ﬁne spot for surﬁng, which is what brought me down there. When I found myself at Maria’s house, I bounced between eating dinner and hanging out with Bruno, the shaggy little ball of fluff tied up outside, looking for an ounce of attention.
Looking into Bruno’s eyes, I knew he had a special kindness. I grew up on a horse ranch on the Central Coast of California with all manner of animals large and small, and at a certain point, I learned how to read an animal’s demeanor to an extent that isn’t quite tangible. Bruno threw me for a loop; he had a good head, a sweet heart, and an almost human-like presence — and he was heart-crushingly adorable.
At the end of dinner I found myself asking Maria, in my piss-poor Spanish, to tell me Bruno’s story and to consider selling him to me. She told me that she had found him on the street a few weeks prior and wanted to give him a good home, and she wouldn’t let me oﬀer her any sort of compensation. I told her that I should sleep on it and asked to come back the next day with a decision; now it seems silly to me that I even waited that long. The next day I took a couple of Polaroids with Maria, Bruno, and myself, and then Bruno and I hit the road in my van for the ﬁrst time.
It’s been ﬁve years since I found Bruno, and now he goes almost everywhere with me, except when I travel overseas for long-term photography assignments or expeditions. He is my little shadow, and often I ﬁnd myself looking around in circles to see where he is, only to realize he’s already at my side. I never have to think about where he is or if he’s getting into any mischief — unless there is a pizza nearby, because it’s his favorite food, and he knows how to get it. I can’t seem to ﬁnd a trail too long or mountain too large for him to bag, even with his short little legs. I don’t know many other dogs that have ridden horses and motorcycles, surfed, pretended to be a mountain goat, or enjoyed countless nights of camping or hogging the bed in ﬁve-star hotels.
I’ve had a lot of dogs over the years, and a few were special; the others, not so much. Bruno, though, has something else: a few extra ounces of spark. He has a way of seeming like he’s more than a dog or my “pet,” and he’s helped me through some of the hardest years of my life — and shared some of the most special moments I’ve experienced.
Bruno is one of the best friends I have, and I’d go anywhere with him. He has lived a lot of lives by my side. Sometimes I ﬁnd myself wondering about the lives he had before I met him, and about the stories he would tell if he could — and if he would tell them to me in Spanish.