From: Vol. 1, Issue 9, May 18-24, 2006

By Shelley Murphy
San Clemente Times

BC Surf Shop and its many patrons say good-bye to their canine friend Maya

When BC Surf Shop owner Manuel Osorio gave directions to his store, he always finished with, “Look for a green awning and a black dog.” That black dog’s name was Maya, and she was the official greeter, welcoming everyone who passed by the shop on the corner of El Camino Real and Avenida Serra or walked through its doors.

While the shop has been in San Clemente for 25 years, Osorio has owned it for the past seven, and during that time, families would come by just to say hello to Maya, a Labrador retriever. When kids would try on clothes in the dressing rooms, she would sit patiently outside the door next to waiting parents. “I have seen young brother and sister combos come in, one would grab Maya’s ears and one the tail and they would pull,” recounts 35-year-old Osorio, who’s originally from Long Beach, Calif. “Those kids have now grown into teenagers. Maya was watching them grow and, in a sense, influencing their souls. She provided a peaceful atmosphere, and she was just such a good spirit.”

Osorio tells the story of how he raised Maya from the time she was 12 weeks old. “She traveled with me from Northern California, where I graduated from school in 1996, to some of the most famous surf spots in Baja, specifically Scorpion Bay,” he says. “If you were to go there between the months of April and September, somehow you’d run into that dog and everyone would recognize her before they recognized me. She would follow me out to the water’s edge and wait patiently until I walked back in and went to camp. Then she would play fetch with everyone. It was one of the many places she was adored.”

Maya, like many big dogs, had an insatiable love for the ocean. But earlier this year, the word got out that Maya was suffering from hip dysplasia and couldn’t make her regular shifts at the shop. Residents from all over town stopped by to express their concern for their favorite shop dog-even the local UPS driver Nelson made a special stop to inquire about Maya.

In a touching twist of fate, on the day that Maya injured herself, Osorio had adopted a new dog named Max, a yellow Lab. He later took both dogs to the beach and recalls: “Maya was showing the pup up. Basically, she went down to the beach and went crazy with the ball and aroused an old injury so severely that the next day she was incapable of walking. She dislocated her hip.” A week later, on April 8, Maya died; she was 11 years old. “She went out with a bang,” Osorio remembers.

And as BC Surf Shop celebrates its 25th anniversary this summer, it will remember the life and spirit of Maya. Throughout the history of the store, BC Surf Shop has had deep roots in the community; at one time or another, it has sponsored every middle school surf team in town. It’s planning a couple of summer events and will be inviting customers, family and friends to celebrate the historic 25 years of belonging to the San Clemente surf community. Equally historic is the celebration of the relationship between a local surf shop dog and the many people whose lives she touched with her spirit. In a community brimming with growth and change, Maya was a soulful and constant fixture in San Clemente. “We have a tight-knit community, and there are certain glues and fibers that bring everyone together, and Maya was that,” explains Osorio.

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