Cocoa is a chocolate-brown Australian Shepherd who spends a large chunk of her time on tour with the reggae band Stick Figure. After being rescued by the California-based group’s lead singer, Scott Woodruff, Cocoa has become a permanent fixture on the tour bus and amassed her own cult following of fans, who line up in the front row at shows to shower her with treats and stuffed animals while shaking her paw. Not a bad life, right?
Taking a moment out from the band’s current U.S. tour, Scott spoke to me about Cocoa’s adoption story, her antics on stage, and how she wound up snagging a leading role in Stick Figure’s latest music video, “Shadow.”
Dogster: How did Cocoa come into your life?
Scott Woodruff: Four years ago, my dog, Holly, was killed suddenly by a coyote. When I was ready to look for a new dog, I began doing weeks of research on shelter websites, where I saw Cocoa’s picture and bio. I immediately knew she was the dog for me.
That was followed by about a month and a half of this crazy ordeal of me calling the shelter, them telling me she wasn’t available, her being moved to a different shelter, and her getting sick. Through all this, I was calling like once every three days. But, in the end, it was all worth it.
When I finally met her, I knew she was the dog I had been looking for, and we connected right away.
How would you describe Cocoa’s personality?
Cocoa is all about good vibes! She really is one the most mellow creatures you will ever meet. It’s a little uncanny how well she can adapt to any environment and lifestyle. She’s been traveling the country with the band for three years in a tour bus, joining us on stage every night. It’s amazing to see a dog who is so cool and calm while living a hectic lifestyle.
Cocoa stars in the video to your song “Shadow.” Where did you film it?
The video was filmed on a farm in Sonoma County located in Northern California. It was filmed with a ’50s-era vibe shot in black and white with old cars and haystacks, and we thought, who better to be the star of the video than the one and only Cocoa the Tour Dog?
Did you always intend for Cocoa to be a tour dog?
Well, that’s my life — I’m always on the road — so leaving her behind every time I travel would be hard for both of us. Plus, she likes the road — the people, sights, sounds, and smells of being in a new city every day. In the last couple of years alone, she has been to nearly every single state, including Alaska, and recently she spent three weeks in Costa Rica soaking up the sun and hanging with all the street dogs.
What was Cocoa’s very first tour?
It was our 2013 tour with Tribal Seeds, so it’s only been a few years. It was kind of a trial run, too, and even we were surprised by how much she liked traveling and being on stage with us.
I was going to ask, how often does she actually go out onto the stage during shows?
Cocoa is at every show, and she’s on the stage every single night. Her favorite part of the show is greeting the fans in the front row, giving them her paw, getting patted, and receiving new dog treats and stuffed animals each night.
If Cocoa could have gone on any famous tour from another artist, which one do you think she’d have picked?
I think she would tell you Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dog, or Nate Dogg. (I think she thinks they’re actually dogs — I don’t have the heart to tell her otherwise.) Or maybe Slightly Stoopid — she loves those guys.
Finally, has she ever shown a strong reaction, either positive or negative, to hearing any of your songs?
Oh, she loves “Smiles on Faces” from our new album Set in Stone — she never gets tired of it, even when she hears us play it every night of a tour. If she doesn’t like any of our songs, we wouldn’t know it — Cocoa’s too nice to say something.