Bacon barrels down the edge of the deep cement bowl at the Austin BMX & Skate Park, hot on the heels of Corey McKinney, who’s zipping through its curves on a skateboard.
The brown-and-black-speckled pup — a mix of pit bull, blue heeler and no telling what else — barks with glee. He seems to know all eyes are following him as he zooms up and down steep walls, somehow avoiding a flattened tail or a mashed paw. It’s like he’s doing canine parkour.
“I can’t stop him,” McKinney says as they both take a breather on the side of the skate park’s bowl.
McKinney, 27, and friend Emi Salazar, 24, rescued Bacon about three years ago in New Braunfels. A dog had escaped from a breeder, leading to a surprise litter that included Bacon. The puppy was sick and infested with fleas; Salazar nursed him back to health.
Bacon, named for Salazar’s obsession with a certain breakfast food, started joining the two on their frequent visits to the skate park, dipping into the bowl after McKinney in full-tilt boogie mode. Today the regulars here all know the pup with a lopsided grin who is about the size and density of a pair of cinder blocks.
Salazar says she and McKinney wanted a sporty dog, so he fits their lifestyle well. “We’ve always been super active and didn’t want him to be lazy,” she says.
As for Bacon, he loves chicken and sweet potatoes. When he’s not chasing McKinney — who sometimes trades his skateboard for a BMX bike — around the skate park, the dog enjoys long walks on the Butler Hike and Bike Trail around Lady Bird Lake and afternoons swimming and chasing sticks and rocks at Red Bud Isle off-leash park.
On a sunny (but cold) Sunday afternoon, as skaters swarm over the 30,000-square-foot skate park, which opened in 2011, Bacon can’t just sit by and watch. The dog chases after McKinney as he swoops into the bowl.
Skateboarding, it seems, changed both their lives. McKinney, who works as a delivery driver for JuiceLand, discovered the sport when he was 9 and growing up in Lufkin. Now he drops by the Austin skate park nearly every day.
“I’d have been a terrible kid if I didn’t find the skateboard,” he says. “I’d have been hanging out with two punk kids, sneaking out at night and doing punk things.”
Instead, McKinney says, skateboarding opened the door to a family he otherwise wouldn’t have.
“(My skateboard) goes with me everywhere. It attracts people and helps me make friends. When you get together (on skateboards), you set aside differences and you have fun pushing each other,” McKinney says.
Bacon, whom McKinney describes as “without a doubt the coolest dog I’ve ever met,” just amplifies that effect. Everybody thinks Bacon's escapades in the bowl are a show, he says, or some kind of choreography.
"He actually just has to do it. I can’t keep him away,” McKinney says.