Man Transforms His Backyard Into Amazing Rock Pool In Honor Of His Dog

All dog lovers know that life is better when you’re lucky enough to share it with a dog. Unfortunately, every dog guardian must experience heartbreaking moments as well. Losing your best friend and member of your family is one of the most difficult things to go through.

When Graham Cohen lost his beloved dog Kyuss, he was inspired to undertake an incredible home renovation project as a way to deal with his grief.



Kyuss was 10 years old when he got sick and was diagnosed with a Mast cell tumor. Kyuss’ diagnosis occurred just shortly after Graham’s son was born. Graham told, “Life was upside down. My best friend was on his way out while this baby with no instruction manual was here to stay.”


Kyuss loved diving for rocks

Despite chemotherapy and radiation treatments, Kyuss lost his battle with cancer. After Kyuss passed away, Graham dealt with his grief by working outside. “The baby could only really be comforted by Mommy. I was a mess. … so I just went outside and started digging to deal with it.” He initially planned on making a koi pond but it turned into something much bigger.

“In the next few months, my kid was born and the project came to a hard stop,” explained Graham. “The hole grew over until one of my buddies suggested I dig a giant hole and make a pool. I didn’t grow up with a pool, but remembered how much I loved them as a kid. Figured it be the best present ever for my new son.”


“June 18, 2010. So the hole got bigger…


“And reinforced…”


“I live on a slope, so a retaining wall was in order.”


“Leveling and marking pool edges for rough estimates.”


“Begin plumbing for main drain and skimmer.”


 “Concrete pad pour and pump installation. I installed it at this point to prevent debris from entering the pipes. It had to be done anyway. Spray paint is for the life of the PVC – flow labeling is so I remember what I did the following day.”


“Texas digging and fortification in mid-July. One of TX’s hotter never-below-105 summers.”


“Still hauling dirt out of the hole – now bucket by bucket.”


“Finish retention wall for pool leveling on sloped yard.”


“Water discharge tank, two creeks and waterfall – skimmer to the left.”


“Begin work on the grotto (or “Cave” as my son calls it).”


“REBAR! – 8×8 squares with #5 steel.”


“Two three pronged tools and a portable band saw were used to cut 188 20′ pieces of rebar.”


“Future swimmer.”


“Water discharge tank with rebar.”


“Near final phases in rebar.”


“Would rather dig, than cut, bend and tie rebard… any day.”


“Shotcrete Day. When the day is done, it will finally look like a pool.”


“Shotcrete application.”


“The pool company that shot the pool gave me a quote and told me one truck-load would do it. They ended up using 42 tons of concrete (two trucks) to finish the job – I was happy it was done, but not for the gross-underestimate.”


“Week after shotcrete. Yes…it takes a week for this stuff to dry and there’s a certain recipe you must follow for keeping it moist in the August sun. My wife said that it looked like a penguin habitat at the zoo… couldn’t argue.”


“Discharge tank, creeks and baby pool after shotcrete. Later this area was sealed with a fantastic product – i was lucky to find its existence – called Thoroseal. Freakin’ awesome. Great way to seal smaller concrete areas. Not as expensive as the Gacoflex, I had previously used on my ponds. It takes three rounds and it’s about $30/bag. Each bag does about 80-100sqft.”


“Shotcrete – view from the roof.”


This was the original plan


“Rock creation – 1 month. Unfortunately I only have a few pictures of this process – none of them do it any justice. This is the most tedious part of building a rock pool.

  • Step 1 – spread thick layer of high durability latex over available, real rocks with good texture – a few coats
  • Step 2 – Mix concrete in mixer, use browns, yellows, gray’s and black concrete stain powder to get desired color – pay attention to your recipe, so it doesn’t vary day to day
  • Step 3- each load of (3 shovels of portland and 10 of sand – if i remember) concrete makes 1-2 rocks depending on size.
  • Step 4 – shape the rock with trowel and lightly dust with additional concrete stain – express your rock-self here, do a Google search for rocks and copy – for me it was difficult to be random – let dry for 30 min (if hot outside, keep moist with light water spray)
  • Step 5 – Coat rock with 1 part zinc stearate, 1 part potassium powder – releasing agent
  • Step 6 – While still maleable, take latex form and pat texture into outside of rock. The releasing agent allows you to remove latex forms without pulling concrete off. Wash, rinse, repeat about 1—200 times.”


 “Get pool plastered by professional and fill with water. Plaster dries underwater. Make sure you give it 24 hours before you jump in for the first time.”


“The “Cave”


“Testing the waters.”


“First time in – he likes it!”


“Last stage: Build a raised fire pit and invite good friends over with awesome cameras.”


All of this, because of Kyuss. This is Kyuss’ special rock. “I miss him very much,” Graham told


The family now regularly enjoys the pool. Graham noted that Kyuss and his son have a few things in common. He told, “They share a lot of the same traits – like rock diving… and just being the super-beings they are!”

Here’s a video Graham shared with us demonstrating Kyuss’ awesome rock diving skills:

What an incredibly awesome project and a wonderful tribute to Kyuss.

All photos were published on with permission from Graham Cohen.


If you loved what Graham did as much as we did, share this with your family and friends.

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