Monday, January 23, 2012

Taking your dog surfing?

Bruce takes to the waves as Raquel watches!
Anyone’s who has spent time on a surf beach will have seen bored dogs, lying on the sand waiting for their owners to come back in. Surfer Raquel Noboa has found an unusual way to keep her dog occupied – she takes him with her on the board.

Raquel has been surfing for six years, and a dog-lover all her life but it was only last year that she thought to put the two together.

“We used to walk on Lahinch beach with the dogs. There are two big worlds on any beach – the surfers and the animal-lovers,” she says. “Then I just had the idea, looked it up online and friended a few Americans who are big into it. They helped me get going.”

Lahinch (on the west coast of Ireland) is one of the most well-known surf beaches in the country so she was in good company. But she says the first time she approached a local surf school about doing a doggy day out on the waves, the owner thought she was mad.

Apparently the trick is to get your dog used to the board – don’t just take him into the water and think he will love it.

“We fed Bruce his meals on the board, so he started to associate it with something good. That gets him used to it,” she says. “So he was up on the board first day then in the water. But he only surfs with me, he still hasn’t surfed with another person.”

And it seems there are surf-styles for dogs. Raquel says if you have a long board, you can take the dog at the front – sitting or lying – and you both balance the board together on the waves. But for regular boards, you need to push the board out to about chest-deep in the water with your dog swimming along side and help him to jump up on the board. Then push and hope for the best.
Raquel and Bruce on dry land. (check out the shades to the left)
She organised the first Doggy Surfing Day in Ireland last year through her non-profit site My Pet Review, raising money for guide-dogs in the process. And says she has plans for an international day, hoping to join up with surfers from California. Who knew?

“Any dog can be trained to do this, but some are easier than others. You don’t need to be a surfer to do this either, it’s just another way to get off the couch and get healthy,” she says.

More pics from the first Doggy Surfing day are on Dog Surfing Ireland. And if you have any questions about how to get going, leave them here (or there!) for Raquel.

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