While “Surfing” the Internet, I came across an interesting dog that actually SURFS! Not only does she surf but she is an amazing extreme sports dog, who it turns out is also the longest competing and top medaled surf dog. As if that wasn't enough, she also herds competitively. I became deeply curious about how a dog could become such an overachiever and even more intrigued when I learned she accomplished all this despite starting life as a traumatized rescue. So, it was with great excitement and interest that I reached out to Abbie's owner, coach, and buddy, Michael Uy, to get the scoop and was I delighted to learn more about their amazing story, as well as Mike’s refreshing approach to bonding with his dog.
Here’s how it goes…Abbie, an Australian Kelpie, was rescued by Mike at the Humane Society Silicon Valley in 2006. Her new Dad was perceptive enough to help her socialize by taking her for walks on the beach. Being a swimmer, Mike always dived in during their outings, and he found that Abbie followed him into he water every time. One thing led to another, and one day while in they were in the water together, Abbie was introduced to a surfboard, and she stood up! Here is what Mike has to say about Abbie’s tale:
The secret to life with a dog is a philosophy called, “Trust, Not Training", (TNT). If you successfully establish deep trust with a dog, they will literally follow you to the ends of the earth. The TNT philosophy is a collection of ideas I've complied from relationship counseling, military leadership, and sports training and coaching. It's a lifestyle philosophy to help a dog find and maximize their potential. This is in stark contrast to the typical focus on obedience and training that monopolizes all literature, media and common thought on dog ownership.
Surfing grew out of Abbie’s desire to be with me while I swam in the ocean. We played in and out of the water, and I made sure to always be there if she got hit with a wave, went under, or simply got tired. As her trust grew, she would follow me out further than she could swim back, and that's when I came up with the idea of using a surfboard to let her rest. That led to her discovering wanting to ride – she stood up instead of lying down on the board, much to my surprise.
TNT is more than a fancy catch phrase for "give your dog more exercise." If you leverage the trust and incrementally take on greater challenges and different activities, your dog develops more than just endurance or strength – they learn to problem solve, be creative, and how to leverage teamwork.
Abbie surfing should NOT be a celebration of clever dog training and persistence. It is merely an example of the extent and diversity of activities that dogs can enjoy when they realize their full potential. Key to this is a supportive owner, or teammate, with whom they share a bond of trust. Note that trust is something that has to be maintained – once you lose it, it's much harder to get it back than it was to build it. So, maybe your dog doesn't become a surfing dog, but if you bond with your dog through sports, both you and s/he will be surprised at what you discover.
I was so inspired by their story that I am sharing it with all you Sizzle readers because whether you live near the ocean or not, it’s so important to exercise daily with your canine and human pals alike. To follow more of Abbie and her adventures, go to her Facebook page or just follow her on Instagram @abbiesurfs. Stay tuned for the next surf installement with Brandy, Abbie's friend seen in the above video!
Edited by David Carriere