San Francisco Giants Bruce Bochy is taking victory laps around National League ball parks as he finishes a storied major league career as a big-league catcher and manager.
There’s another Bruce Bochy, the Chenery Street Bochy, and he’s caught a few pitches himself.
The Glen Park Bochy is in mid-career, takes his own laps and has his own personal trainer named Mary Daly who keeps Bruce in top notch shape.
After taking routine turns around Glen Canyon’s Islais Creek with Daly, Bruce ambles by Thelma Williams baseball diamond and then out to Elk Street.
“Bruce gets in his walks every day,” Mary Daly told the Glen Park News.On April 3, half way through their walk she stopped and rubbed Bruce’s ample backside.
Bruce’s derriere is as large as a baseball backstop.
Bruce is the size of Ted Kluszewski. He’s a black Labrador and Newfoundland-mix, and he’s as large as a railway caboose and has a tongue the size of a mouse pad.
If you’re on Alms Road while Daly trails behind Bruce and he suddenly decides to pirouette, look out, you could be at risk.
Actually, Bruce never does anything suddenly.
Bruce tips the scales at around 130 pounds and moves with the speed of a glacier.
Unlike the two-legged Bochy, who’ll completes a 2019 away series in Pittsburgh and Philly and then head back to Oracle Park, the four-legged Bochy ends his frequent circuits around San Francisco’s second longest above ground creek and then heads for his dugout on Chenery Street.
And waiting for him there isn’t a chaw.
Glen Park’s Bruce Bochy prefers kibbles.
“Bruce gets six bowls a day,” said Daly, who is a post-partum nurse at a San Francisco hospital and who often clocks 10-hour shifts.
Daly has lived in her Chenery Street house since 1994, and she’s no strangers to outsized canines. In fact, she has been rescuing behemoths for decades.
St. Bernards to be specific, which is sort of karmic since St. Barnards, the world’s heaviest breed, continue making a habit of rescuing snow bound travelers in the Swiss Alps.
“There was Tucker, a boy who lived to be 11, then Penny, a girl. She lived to see 10 years. Then Josie who lived to be eight,” said Daily, who saved each doggy orphan from a premature demise.
Daly’s surrogate home could easily be San Francisco’s Animal Care and Control.
She’s probably been offered an office key by this time.
“Bruce is six now,” said Daly, originally from Ireland and a long time Giants fan who reveled watching the other Bruce finesse her hometown team to three Major League championships in six years.
Three’s a magic number for Daly.
“There were three Chenery Street neighbors who took in stranded dogs six years ago,” she explained.
On April 20, Daly stopped and dug into her pocket for a front door key. Bruce preceded, lumbering by her. His tail swished and his mouth slobbered like he was auditioning for a scene in a remake of Steve McQueen’s “The Blob.”
“You know,” Daly said, a Celtic lilt softening the air, “the right dog always speaks to you through a cage.”
Bruce wasn’t interested in Billy Beane metrics. The loveable lug stretched, then moseyed to his dish of kibbles.
A lot has been written and voiced about dogs and us. How we have kept them as pets for 12,000 years. How they’re our best friends. How dogs don’t hold grudges, question our motives. How they provide us exercise, how they are ice breakers when we approach other dog walkers whom we might not ordinarily engage in conversation.
On any given day, Glen Canyon is fertile ground to test such theories.
The United States has the highest dog population in the world; the French a distant second. We spend a king’s ransom on pet food and veterinarian bills, and an estimated 1,000,000 dogs have been named as primary beneficiaries in their custodian’s wills.
And if all politics is local, then the proof of the poodle is the fanciful yet true statistic that in the city of St. Francis there are more dogs then children. San Francisco Animal Care and Control, in 2016, estimated there were 115,000 children under 18 living in San Francisco compared to 120,000 dogs.
The following Wednesday, April 24, Daly again did her due diligence. Bruce tramped in front of her, sniffing trail side ivy along the fire road. Daly stopped close to where an unleashed lap dog in 2010 had run afoul of a coyote, tricked into perusing the coyote up the slope behind Silver Tree. After a long minute, that coyote or another chased the dog back down the same hill and into the arms of its hysterical owner. The woman strapped a leash on her pet, then she and her pup beat a hasty retreat.
There aren’t such hurried departures with Bruce.
Typically coyotes that den on either side of the creek stay clear of dog walkers. Mary Daly has a safety formula, which has proven efficacious with her St. Barnards and now Bruce.
“Walk lightly,” she told the Glen Park News, “and bring a big dog.”
We share our lives with dogs because of their capacity to express affection unconditionally. They are our alarm system; they protect us, they become our children’s guardians and playmates. They offer us therapy and service, they sit in firehouses, leap from police cars, and circle airport check-in lines as part of TSA – K9 units.
They comfort and calm us. In our turn, we pamper and pet them, make them part of our families.
If a gargantuan and gentle giant Bruce, waterfalling droll from his lips that would have been the envy of Gaylord Perry, ever attempted a leap onto Mary Daly’s lap his grand slam would charm not crush her.
“Dogs are not our whole life,” opined writer and photographer Roger Caras, “but they make our lives whole.”
Mary Daly sometimes works shifts that last longer than 10 hours.
“I’m a mom-baby nurse,” she said of the newbies and mothers for whom she cares.
On these long days at Sutter Health, she doesn’t walk Bruce as often; she relies on a neighbor to escort him on his rounds.
The neighbor has her key. Glen Park is that sort of neighborhood.
Come October Bruce Bochy may find himself in yet another World Series, which at the moment with the Giants playing under .500 ball, seems as likely as the 36-Teresita running on time.
San Francisco will say so long to Bruce Bochy; Cooperstown will likely say hello.
With one Bruce gone, the other one will have extra innings to log in his Glen Park play-by-play scorebook.
As both nurse Daly and backstop Bochy know, and as author Stephen Rowley writes, “Every turn of a corner with a dog is the opportunity for a clean slate. Every bounce of a ball brings joy and the promise of a fresh chase.”
After one of her marathon hospital shifts, Mary Daly predictably returns to Glen Canyon.
For those who may encounter her and her Bruce there, they can be sure that their laps won’t be valedictory.
The Limerick lass offered up a daily prescription for good health.
“No matter how hard a day you’ve had,” she said, “get up and walk a dog.”