When I was eight years old, we moved from Massachusetts to San Clemente, California. If you don’t know San Clemente, it is pretty much archetypal beach bum heaven. Perpetual sun, wide sandy beaches, and the smell of the salty ocean air at every turn.
I hated it.
Me, with my East Coast sensibility and hatred of the feeling of sand in between my toes, wanted nothing to do with the SoCal beach scene and couldn’t wait to escape from lala land back to the land of autumn leaves, icy roads, and Atlantic Ocean water.
I’m not exactly sure what I was thinking.
Sometime over the last 20-something years, I gradually came around. As I mentioned some time ago (warning: it’s that entry) I am not sure there is anywhere closer to heaven on earth than dog beach. Here, you have the collision of two paradigms of earthly perfection: the beauty of the earth meeting the waves, joined by the unbridled joy of man’s best friend plunging gleefully into the surf.
Which is why it made perfect sense to spend Saturday hedging my rapturous bet at Dog Beach: if I win, heaven. If I lose, heaven. There is simply no better place to be.
I am so very fortunate to live in San Diego near the incredible Helen Woodward Animal Center, whose ever expanding repertoire of pet related activities makes it impossible to live here without experiencing something singular. In the days leading up to the massive September Surf Dog Surf-A-Thon, they are holding regular surf clinics to teach dogs and their owners to enjoy the waves together.
I gave up on being a surfer chick a long time ago. I’m just not a strong enough swimmer. However, I have a Golden Retriever named Brody, and if ever there was a dog made for surfing, he’s it. Helping him be a surfer dude, I can do.
It was a small group that braved the chilly May weather to come out this Saturday. I hear the June clinics are pretty packed. For us, there were only three of us, which meant a ton of one-on-one attention. Here is Brody getting used to the board with surf pro and legend Guy Takayama. How lucky are we??
P.S. Guy, I need to know where you got that sweet wetsuit.
After Brody got comfortable on the board, he was picked up board and all like a Roman king on a litter about to be sacrificed to Neptune, and brought to the edge of the chilly ocean waves.
There was about an 8:1 volunteer:surfer ratio. Helen Woodward does things right. Seriously, doesn’t this scream for a Dick Dale accompaniment?
We were out there for a full hour working on technique. Nose up, wait for a lull in the set, spin counter-clockwise, walk into the wave, let go. I bet you didn’t know it was so scientific.
I learned that Brody likes to walk the board and pull a spinner or two. That’s surfer for “jumps off the front of the board and spins around.” We will pretend that was on purpose.
For his second time out, I think he did awesome. It was the best bonding experience we have shared in a long time, and as such I think I really want to commit to working on this with him so I can get him into the actual September contest. What better way to celebrate his second birthday?
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that, didn’t I? My handsome boy is 2 today. I am so blessed to have the life I do.
We’ll be celebrating the awesome all week with some giveaways and fun. In the meantime, I have to give a huge shoutout to Kahuna Kona, one of the amazing So Cal Surf Dogs- when we accidentally left our digital card at home, she stepped up and not only took video for me, she edited it and put it on YouTube! I can’t thank you enough!