I first met Bobby Muñoz of Stockton and his English bulldog Picasso in 2013 as they were walking along the promenade at the Weber Point Events Center in downtown Stockton. When I say ”they were walking” I mean Muñoz was walking while Picasso was riding a skateboard, yes a skateboard. Now, that’s not something you see everyday so of course I had to take a picture of the dog.
Muñoz said that Picasso loved to skate and that “he’d do it all day if I let him.” Indeed, he appeared to smiling with his big floppy tongue hanging out and having a great time as he took a few steps to push off then put all four paws on the board and let his momentum carry him away.
Muñoz as first inspired by seeing the famous skateboarding bulldog Tillman who Picasso even resembled. While living in Palo Alto, he began training him at about 5-months old. He bought a small skateboard, drilled a hole in the front and tied a rope through it. He then put Picasso on the board and pulled him around so that the dog could learn to balance on it. Soon Picasso outgrew the small board and Muñoz got him a standard sized one. Picasso learned that if he put a foot on the ground he could push off and propel himself without the help of Muñoz and then he was off to the races, so to speak. Muñoz and Picasso moved to Stockton in 2011.
They would frequent the Weber Point area, which provided the space for Picasso to ride his board and I photographed them a few times over the years. People would gather and take pictures of him and generally get a kick out of watching him skate through the park, especially kids. Whenever he would run out of room, he would just pivot the board on his own and then skate back the way he came.
In 2015 and 2016 Picasso performed his skateboarding skills at a couple of pet-themed events at Whirlow’s in Stockton and Pets and Pals in Lathrop and was beginning to gain some fame much like his inspiration Tillman.
About a month ago Picasso, 8 years-old, was diagnosed with cancer. The disease was too far along and any treatment would not have significantly improved Picasso’s the quality of life. Muñoz made the heart wrenching decision to euthanize his best friend. “I didn’t want to see him suffer,” said Muñoz. “He gave me some great years.”
If there’s a pet heaven then Picasso must be happily skateboarding all day among the clouds with a big grin on his face. Munoz remembered Picasso: “He was my everything. I’ll seen him when I get there.”