Surfing With Dogs that Make a Difference

If your dog loves the ocean, you may have already discovered the joys of surfing the waves with your canine companion. Dogs can make great surf buddies”, but some dogs are making a downright heroic splash riding the waves. Check out these surfer dogs who are making a difference:


After serving in Iraq, Army veteran and retired Staff Sgt. Randall Dexter faced a different battle. His work as a combat medic combined with the experiences he had endured, including his team being blasted by explosives during his tour, had left him with post-traumatic stress disorder and a traumatic brain injury. When he came to San Diego in 2012 on the brink of suicide, he was fighting for a reason to live again. That’s when he heard about Paws’itive Teams, a nonprofit that trains dogs to help people like Dexter. The father of 3 was paired with an award winning surfer dog named Ricochet. As their bond increased, Ricochet taught Dexter how to surf and in a recent segment on the Today Show, the former vet credited his four-legged friend, “She gave me freedom and gave me my life back! “, Dexter said.


When 5 year old Cherie was a young pup, her owners, unable to afford her care, turned her over to the French Bulldog Rescue Shelter. Luckily, Amy and Dan Nykolayko chose to adopt Cherie. The trio frequently visited Long Beach where the Southern California couple noticed how much their pet shared their love for the ocean. The owners enrolled Cherie in dog surfing classes in Del Mar and it wasn’t long before their newest family member had mastered the tricks of the tide. With the help of the Nykolaykos, the former pound puppy began entering surf competitions in 2013. Since then, the rescued bulldog has become a chip off the old block, raising over $7000 to benefit rescue shelters for other abandoned dogs through her wins in surf competitions.


When Gerilyn and Jason Hibbeler’s daughter, Madison, picked a K-9 Belgian Malinois out of the litter to become their pet, they were unprepared for the tragedy that lie before them, or the special bond that they would develop with their now 60 pound Halo. During the time that they waited until the dog was old enough to bring home, Madison was killed by a drunk driver. Struck with grief after losing their son in 2007, and then having to face the loss of their daughter, the couple was unsure if they would follow through with getting a new pet after all. Today, however, they credit the aptly named “Halo” as their saving grace. The Hibbelers began taking their dog to the beach, where “Maddy” had often surfed. After seeing another dog who had learned to surf, they decided to teach Halo how to hang ten. The couple found joy in their pet’s new past-time and now Gerilyn lovingly refers to him as her “kid”. They regularly hold dog surfing sessions that double as adoption events for rescue dogs. They believe that Halo was heaven sent and want to spread the joy that he has reignited in their lives.