A few weeks ago, I got an email from Peter Noll, one of the local big kahunas in the surf dog scene. He got my name from none other than Judy Fridono, otherwise known as Surf Dog Ricochet’s owner, and they were wondering if I might be interested in hanging out at the Purina Incredible Dog Surf Dog challenge last Friday just in case there was a dog in need of a veterinarian. And you know, I would have gone anyway just to watch, so this was icing on the cake since I got to go and tangentially feel important.
The Purina Incredible Dog Challenge takes place at multiple venues across the country, with the National Championship taking place at the Purina headquarters in St. Louis in the fall. This weekend featured multiple events such as agility, dock diving, and frisbee freestyle- as far as I know the San Diego event is the only Purina IDC surf event, though. So for the elite 12 competitors who were invited, this was a big deal.
We had typical June gloom at 8 am. It was a bit overcast. Most creatures in the water were wearing either a wetsuit or a fur coat.
Last year’s reigning champ surveys the competition.
If you follow the surf dog scene, you know two of the big names: Surf Dog Ricochet and Kahuna Kona, both making excellent appearances on the waves.
Non-competitors made the cut on the fashion front.
I’ve never seen a Westie with as much swagger as this guy. He knew he was the bomb.
The local Surf Divas school sent out an ace team to help with the competition. If you’ve never surfed with your dog, and I’m betting 99% of you have not, here’s the deal.
First, you have to get out there with your dog and get them on to the surfboard. If your dog is over 25 pounds, you may need a helper. If your dog is Brody, you DEFININITELY need a helper. Then you need to drag them out through the breaking waves while they remain still, wait, and get just the right wave for them to catch. You need to hold the board perpendicular to the shoreline so when you shove off, they go straight instead of off to the side. Your push needs to be timed just right with the swell of the wave or else the board turns and they fall off. This is a workout.
For those who master the art, fame awaits.
For those who don’t, well, they’re dogs, and they are at the beach, so they are pretty much as happy as can be regardless.
And what a beach it is. When the sun came out, everyone cheered.
The wise and the brachycephalic know how to stay safe in the sun.
The last heat in the competition was the tandem competition. OK, so remember me saying surfing your dog was hard? Let’s say a 4 or 5 out of 10 depending on the dog’s size.
Try getting on the board and surfing with your dog. 7.
Try getting on the board with your dog and your daughter, then getting your daughter on your shoulders all while riding a wave. ELEVEN. Scott, Tyler and Zoey Chandler: what an incredible father-daughter-pup team.
And the best part about the competition? Everyone was so supportive of each other; when one handler wasn’t able to be there, another stepped in for the tandem competition without missing a beat, because that is how this community is. Nicest people and dogs ever.
As for my own level of difficulty, well, let’s say it was like a 1.5. Because I did have to keep a watchful eye on things and all. And I had to put on sunscreen when I got up, and that took a couple minutes, and I had to pack a first aid kit. Trust me, if someone had a minor laceration, I would have been all over it on that makeshift award stand/surgery table.
Oh yes, I need to check that dog’s tongue, please bring him a little closer for smooches. Trust me, I’m a vet.
Sometimes I have to pinch myself because I can’t believe how I get to live here.