He lay in the sand, half in the sunlight, the other half in the shade of the flimsy tarp under which our small group was assembled. He appeared disinterested, sleeping actually, with his small head resting on his paws. When I knelt down in front of him, he lazily opened his eyes for just a brief moment as if to say, "It is too hot for me to care." Even when I stroked his smooth head and scratched behind his short ears I received no response, no movement to show his appreciation for such affectionate attention. At that moment I pitied him and imagined the life of a stray begging for scraps from the humans he randomly encountered on the beach.
As we donned our life vests and walked to our kayaks he leaped up and followed us to the water's edge, prancing among the four kayaks in anticipation. As I pushed our kayak out into the water, sat in the front seat, and paddled out to our meeting point 20 or so yards into the bay, I fixed my attention on our destination, a sandy beach across the boat lanes just behind the famous Los Cabos Arch. Our guide, Arturo, approached and I turned to see the dog standing firmly on the bow of his kayak as it glided smoothly over the water.
I shouted across the water to Arturo, asking his dog's name. He shouted back, his voice somewhat lost in the sound of wind, water and distant engines.
"Lobos?", I asked. "Like the wolf?"
"No, NO-BALLS!", he shouted back with a smile while making a cutting motion across his lap to further clarify the name's meaning for me.
He then told the story of finding a puppy, abandoned on the beach two years back, already ‘sin bolas'. Since that time, Arturo and No Balls have been inseparable, both in work and play. No Balls accompanies every kayak trip Arturo takes, whether guiding tourists or solo, even into the roiling sea beyond the safety of the harbor.
As we proceeded across the busy bay, we stopped multiple times to let water craft of all shapes, sizes and sorts cross our paths, headed either in or out of the harbor at the bottom of the bay. The largest of these produced substantial swells in their wakes which jostled our kayaks up and down, spraying us with cool water, welcomed by all heated by the intense sunlight. And through all this, No Balls stood steadfastly at the helm of Arturo's kayak, his gaze intently fixed on the rocks beyond. Twice, when Arturo had us gather together to offer information about the bay or its history, his kayak was bumped by another inadvertently and No Balls lost his footing, falling into the deep waterway. Undaunted, he paddled back to the kayak and with Arturo's help climbed back up and shook it off, quickly assuming his watch.
When we at last reached the beach and pulled up on the sand, No Balls jumped off and sheparded us together, barking at swimmers and sunbathers who happened to be too close to us for his comfort. He followed our group across the sand to the opposite side of the beach which met with the Pacific Ocean, an entirely different aquatic environment altogether. Here, he kept his distance from the water's edge, respectful and cautious of the crashing waves, although seldom taking his eyes off the water.
Later, while watching a few surf boarders brave the huge Pacific waves, Arturo told us the story of the Mayan sea god, who lives in a cave under the oceans guarded by whales and sharks. According to their mythology, he created the oceans and despises humans, waiting for them to ruin the waters of the earth, at which time he will break out of his cave and destroy the entire human race. The moral of this story is that if we take care of the oceans, we will not be destroyed and have nothing to fear. During the telling of the tale, No Balls sat by Arturo, gazing up at us with an ardent expression that clearly said, "Have no fear. I am here to protect you from whales and sharks and gods and all other terrible forces."
After some snorkeling, we returned to our journey's origin and pulled our kayaks into place. I asked Arturo, his half-brother Luis and No Balls to pose for a picture. I think it fitting that No Balls is turned to the water, most likely pondering his next expedition or perhaps dreaming of the sea god's cave. Who knows? Regardless, my pity was surely misplaced as this is one dog with a life full of adventure, purpose and love