Surf City Surf Dog 2011
September was a super busy month for us, with many major pet-related events (why are they all in September?) and lots of behind-the-scenes work on our soon-to-be released Design Lab Creative Studio Website. But today we are back and we wanted to share some stories and photos from Surf City Surf Dog, an event so fun that no amount of great photos would do it justice, hopefully you will be inspired to attend next year or maybe even take up surfing with your own dog 😉
The big event began on a Friday with at the awesome, pet-friendly Shorebreak Hotel in Huntington Beach. When I say dog-friendly, I mean dogs have their own menu at the restaurant! To kick-start the weekend, Dog is Good presented their first-ever Dog is Beachin’ Fashion Show. If you are not familiar with Dog is Good, make sure you check them out, they have some of the best apparel for dog lovers as well as a brand new line of pet products (Corbin is the proud owner of the Black D-Bolo-G Dog Water Bottle).
The second day of Surf City Surf Dog was a block party of sorts with great vendors, and a costume contest. This is where we set up a little surf-themed background and took portraits of the pups that came to visit. Proceeds from these portraits were donated to Surf City Surf Dog’s charity partners including the Southern California Bulldog Rescue.
The third and final day, and the one we were all eagerly awaiting, the Surfing Competition. I can honestly say, my jaw hit the sand quite a few times that day. It was such a treat to be there taking photos of these dogs and their people. These dogs were even more eager than the humans to get in the water, onto their surf boards and their excitement was quite contagious.
There were many amazing surf dogs that day, and we were very lucky to connect with three of them: Abbie, Jedi and Newman. Abbie, a rescued Australian Kelpie and her human Mike set a new Guinness World Record for open water surfing that day! We asked their people to do a little guest writing on the blog today to give you an insight into their story. We were very inspired by Mike and Abbie’s story of rescue and bonding through sports and we know you will be too.
Jedi – Australian Kelpie
Guest post by Katie and Patrick
When I laid my eyes on his cute little face I knew I had to have him. We got Jedi back in march of 2010 and had no idea what an Australian Kelpie was so we started to look for more information about them. Upon learning his breed’s temperament, we started to Google “Australian Kelpie activities” and came across the world famous Abbie girl and her surfing skills. We went to go check her out last year at the surf-a-thon and fell in love with the idea of dog surfing. It was prefect because Jedi already loved the water. We started off by having Jedi balance on a boogie board in our friends pool and it didn’t take him long to learn the ropes with the balancing.We then purchased his first surf board and headed to the beach. He caught his first wave at 11 months old. We started playing around in the ocean and having him swim and just cruising the waves. Since surfing, he’s really become accustomed to the crowds that form at his home break in the Ventura Harbor Cove. Now, he loves to entertain! He loves to be in any type of water, so we know he is always having fun surfing or playing fetch at the lake. My relationship (Katie) with Jedi is that of a mother. He knows that I will never put him in any danger. We have a great deal of trust that will never be broken. He is such a momma’s boy because of all of this. My husband’s bond with him is also special in a father-son sense. Since learning of his breed and how active he is, it has also made us active with him. We love to talk about his surfing skills and his intelligence. We are always introducing dog surfing to other people and fellow four-legged children.
Visit Jedi’s Facebook Page Jedi Surfs
Newman – English Bulldog
Guest post by Debbie
When I brought Newman home he was just 8 weeks old. I carried him into the house and said “You’re the new man of the house now.” Hence the name Newman. A month before Newman was born, his dad drowned in a neighbor’s swimming pool, it was so sad. Bulldogs don’t float, so extra precautions must be taken when they are around water. Ironically enough, Newman has always loved to play in water so I figured he might like surfing. This contest was only his 2nd time ever on a surfboard, he did really well and had the 2nd highest overall score going into the finals, but couldn’t catch a good wave in the finals, so ended up fourth. Newman lives with me, his 4 year old bulldog sister, Junebug, and his 5 year old pug brother, Giorgio Armani. He’s a very happy little bulldog who loves people.
Abbie – Australian Kelpie
Guest post by Michael
In 2007, I started thinking of getting a dog, so I went to Humane Society Silicon Valley, “just to look, not adopt.” When I went into the paddocks, all the dogs went crazy barking and jumping around, but there was one cage at the back with no activity. As I walked up, I saw Abbie just sitting there, looking very calm, with her head cocked while she tried to figure out why all the other dogs had suddenly gotten excited. She was the only dog amidst the chaos, and she was studying me when I walked up. They say the dogs pick you, not the other way around…
The shelter classified her as a “special needs dog” – traumatized and unsocialized. Their advice was, “Take her with you wherever you go, so she starts to see the world.” So, I did. As an athlete, that meant jogging, rollerblading, cycling, trail running, and later, swimming with me in the ocean. In the beginning, she was afraid of other dogs, loud noises, sudden movement, dark rooms, humans. But though sports, Abbie slowly came out of her shell. She learned to trust me, trust the activity. Once we had that relationship, it was easier for me to then introduce her to other dogs, then people and socialize her.
This rehabilitation technique worked so well, that it formed the foundation for our entire relationship and her success later as a dog athlete. Abbie was never “walked”. Every time we went out, it was a jog, a trail run, or bike ride. We have done 2-5 miles a day everyday, rain or shine, since she was adopted. We started tackling more complex trails, more complex activities. We even started sheepherding – something that requires close communication and an ability for dog and owner to read each other. This closeness played a key role in how we became so successful at surfing.
When we moved to San Diego, I heard about dogs on surfboards, but it was still a novelty, not a sport. One day, Abbie followed me out into the ocean, and so I put her on someone’s board to rest. Instead of lying down, she stood up. Seeing that, I tried pushing her into the wave, and watched her trim the board and ride it into the beach.
In 2008 she entered her first surfing contest, and it’s been a wonderful ride every since. We approached dog surfing like all our other sports we’ve done together – it’s about exercising together, we only do it as long as Abbie’s having fun, and we stay in constant communication.
Because of these rules, Abbie also developed a surfing style unique to the sport. She jumps on the board herself. She’s the only dog who isn’t lifted onto the board, nor are treats or toys used to keep her there. Surfing IS her treat. While we’re out there, I communicate to signal when a wave is coming, when I’m turning the board, when to hold on. And we have a little secret ritual before she drops into a wave, and another once she lands on the beach. It’s all about having fun out there together.
My relationship with Abbie is special to me because it’s based on trust, not training. It’s grounded in activity and adventure. I used to do extreme sports to see how much I could excite myself. Now, I do it to see her tail wagging and the big grin on her face. We also hope Abbie’s adventures inspires other dog owners. If a little shelter dog like Abbie can become top dog in the crazy sport of dog surfing, even set a Guinness World Record, then every dog has the potential to be amazing at something if they bond with their owner through sports.
We hope you’ve enjoyed these stories and images, maybe even inspired you to get out there and have some sporty fun with your dog. Here’s to all the surf dogs out there and congratulations on all your achievements as a team. An immense Thank You to Surf City Surf Dog and Dog is Good for allowing us to be a part this amazing event. Surf’s Up!