Bred to Protect the Dalai Lama: A Wise Tale I Once Overheard

I had just worked nearly ten hours on the beach in Pacifica and so far the day had been epic.

My coworker Vik got to meet the ring leader of the incognito ‘SKINS’, a spear fishing club that Vik has desperately been trying to get in the know with. (Apparently the spear fishing community is hard to break into and after several unreturned emails to the Treasurer, Dennis Belcher, this was Vik’s break).

From Vik’s meeting with Belcher and his spear fishing mate, Charlie Claycomb (both of these names seems straight out of a story book to me), I learned how to spot a spear fisher from a mile away– they’re the ones wearing camouflaged wetsuits on the golden beaches. Yes, it’s bizarre. Why camouflage? And on the beach? Clearly they are not blending in. But apparently the camouflage helps a spear fisher disappear into the murky depths of the Pacific, heightening his or her chances of catching a fish.

I also got to meet a surf kayaker, Roger, who divulged all the best spots to catch some waves while staying a good distance from surfers. As expected, surfers have some beef with the kayakers, who seem to be stealing their waves. But alas, Roger and his crew at California Canoe and Kayak have found a spot at Pillar Point, which apparently is the place to go to just kick back and “bullshit”.

As an avid kayaker and river rafter, surf kayaking sounds amazing to me, and I just ate up every word that this grey-haired man told me as he pasted glaring white sunscreen all across his face. I caught Roger in between waves, when he hauled out on the beach to reapply sunscreen and adjust his little red waterproof jumpsuit.

The meeting with the SKINS and Roger all happened before my actual “work” went down.

At the time I had been working a side gig for Living Social as an adventure guide…. but I wouldn’t really say I “guided” anyone. I was more of a facilitator of good times, and on that day the Living Social Adventure team had paired up with a local surf shop in Pacifica who was going to teach three waves of adults how to surf. My job was to sit on the beach and watch, attend to any mishaps (one person did have to get stitches!), hand out waters, and just talk to people. To say the least, it was pretty cruisy.

Once all three surf classes had wrapped up, Vik and I packed up the cooler and carried it back up to the surf shop, which is situated in a small strip mall just off highway one. The strip mall, like most, is filled with a smattering of unlikely neighbors. To the left of the surf shop is food– a grocery store, cafe, pizza shop and Mexican cantina– and to the right a smoke shop, Annabee’s Doggie Boutique and Cafe and Club Annabee’s (the doggie daycare and hotel associated with the neighboring cafe).

As Vik and I hauled the cooler past Annabee’s we caught the most ridiculous part of the most ridiculous conversation each one of us had heard in a long, long time.

“Well, I heard these dogs were bred to protect the Dalai Lama,” said one woman convincingly to another, as she stroked a small dog cradled in her arms. Both women were nodding their heads in wide-eyed agreement as this conversation played out.

Vik’s response couldn’t have captured my thoughts any better. “I’m hearing some wise tales,” he said.

I later learned that Annabee’s was the Bay Area’s FIRST cafe for dogs and that Club Annabee’s offers a bubble room spa, blueberry facials and ‘mani-pawdis’ (with the owner’s choice of polish) for its canine guests.

This city makes me smile every day.