Surviving Boomer, Cayucos’ beloved nightmare

January 16, 2023

Wilbur, Boomer, Dell Franklin and Pete Schuler

Editor’s Note: The following series, “Life in Radically Gentrifying Cayucos by the Sea,” to be posted biweekly includes the notes, thoughts, and opinions of an original American voice: author Dell Franklin. 

Franklin’s memoir, “Life On The Mississippi, 1969,” is currently on Amazon.


Boomer is a dog with a very high profile in Cayucos and hangs out mornings at Cayucos Coffee downtown and along the seawall with his master, Pete Schuler. Various locals and tourists are convinced he is irresistibly cuddly and cute—especially when for no given reason or offensive stimuli, he suddenly screeches, squalls and shrieks.

In fact, Boomer once competed with my now-deceased dog Wilbur over treats in the two areas previously mentioned. And while both dogs were and are accomplished beggars, Boomer has the reputation of being able to ingest any kind of garbage available—including dead rotting beach kill—without suffering side affects, while Wilbur had to be discriminating because of old age deficiencies.

Well, since Pete (who describes Boomer as a 40 pound ‘Sqauatty Rotty’) informed me he was spending a few days over Christmas with his family up in the bay area, I volunteered to dog sit Boomer in his absence.

“Are you sure?” Pete asked, a quizzical expression on his face as his eyes searched my soul.

“It’ll save you motel money and allow you to spend time with your sister and dad without being encumbered by his constant demands,” I stated, feeling good about myself.

“You’re sure now?”

“I’m sure, yes. He’ll be good company, Pete. I’ll take good care of him. Enjoy yourself and don’t worry about a thing.” Now I felt really pleased with myself.

Of course, I realized that Boomer, who at Pete’s abode had an outdoor hut and comfy bed, an indoor comfy bed, and access to all couches and sofas and slept with Pete, yes, but I was prepared. All dogs are spoiled. That’s why we love them, right?

Well, roughly thirty seconds after Pete drove away with his daughter Nora, Boomer, from my deck, unleashed a keening, otherworldly screech that seemed to vibrate the entire neighborhood, and it was a sound unlike anybody had witnessed along the seawall or coffee haunt, and it went on for a while. How long? Going on half an hour, the lady who lives above me on a hill, yelled down asking me what was going on as her three dogs were barking furiously, possibly in terror.

I yelled up at her, “It’s Boomer! I’m pet sitting him for Pete Schuler! He misses his master!”

I tried to pet Boomer, but he was pacing on my deck. He can’t hear and sees little at 14, so there was no dealing with him. His screeches in town were sporadic and short-lived, but these nerve-shredding screeches, shrieks and squalls went on for over an hour, until I finally tossed a small rock at him.

It did no good. So I decided to take him for a walk.

Well, walking my old 90-pound brown Lab Wilbur was easy compared to Boomer. He pulled all the way down to the seawall and, on the way back, quit. I figured that Pete, a former water polo all-American, probably carried him, but Pete is six-foot-five and 300 beans, while I am a 79-year-old normal size human at around 190. I was not carrying Boomer. Nope. I sort of dragged and insulted him, calling him a pussy, an asshole, and a disgrace compared to Wilbur.

None of it worked. Going up my short stairway, when he refused to budge, I goosed and pushed the little monster and he had no choice but to scuttle like a wounded crab up and into the abode.

He refused to eat the kibble Pete provided and insisted on fried hamburger. I gave it to him. Intermittently, throughout the first night, he somehow increased the volume of his harmonics. He tried to sleep with me. No. I don’t sleep with dogs. I draw the line.

I also made sure to give him a third short walk late in the evening so he’d be comfortable sleeping throughout the night.

Yet, in the morning, I discovered the door to my deck nudged open and three big turds on the deck as well as a puddle of piss.

What could I say to him? He was at least sleeping in his bed, but even in sleep he barked, yowled and muttered.

So I took him on a longer morning walk on purpose to exhaust him, and thankfully, he slept all day; though, once darkness arrived, he began to unleash previously undiscovered sounds from his arsenal. I’d say he rooted as deep down into his gut as possible to create at least 25 different soul-shearing utterances that went on during the entire prime time TV hours, which I devoted to professional basketball.

I was beginning to crack under the racket. And yes, I was beginning to seriously dislike Boomer as he crept up on my sleeping quarters as I watched TV from my recliner, twirled around, and tried to climb up on my pillows. I quickly booted him off, placed a towel over the comforter and a TV dinner tray over the pillows, and he quickly settled for the towel, not happy, but resigned.

On Christmas day I cooked a feast of baby back pork ribs. While eating and watching NFL football with Boomer at my feet, I tore off chunks and tossed them at him while his uneaten kibble of two days lay in his bowl, beside his water bowl. Everything in my tiny place and deck was arranged for Boomer’s comfort, but still, he pooped and peed on my deck every night.

By the third day I wanted to wheel Boomer to the end of the pier and toss him into 10-foot waves. That night proved to be the worst. He started his squalls and shrieks and screeches around seven in the evening and added some new disturbing guttural stuff even more chilling. By ten o’clock, when I like to conk out, he was still going strong, occasionally pacing beside me and increasing the volume while I lay in bed with the TV on full blast and a big glass of vodka in hand—anything to kill the pain.

By 11 o’clock I had poured more vodka and taken an ativan. I suffer from severe insomnia and take this light tranquilizer about once a month. At midnight I locked Boomer out on the deck but it only got worse and there are neighbors so I let him in and took another ativan (first time ever), and sometime after midnight conked out.

Come morning, I was hungover but Boomer was mercifully sleeping. Of course he awakened later and started in. By this time I was feeling vengeful at my good friend Pete. He was supposed to return sometime in the evening. As time passed, it was evening and no Pete. I began to anticipate Pete calling and asking for one more day of dog sitting, and vowed to kill him if he tried such a ploy.

Evening settled in. I called Pete. No response. Yes, I hated Pete. Finally, he called. He was in town, eating. He’d be over in 20 minutes.

When he finally showed up, I went over the endless list of complaints. He praised me, claiming I deserved a medal, and laughed at me while Boomer clung to his daughter Nora and was at last quiet.

“How come the miserable little monster isn’t happy to see you?” I asked Pete.

“He’s punishing me,” Pete said.

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Pete owes you a bottle of the good vodka.

“Squatty Rotty” haha perfect name for Boomer!! What a Treacherous guest! I do feel sorry for you. But proud you were able to ward off the urge to throw him off the pier! Not that he didn’t deserve it. So would you watch him again? Great read!