I hope that my South Florida followers found time last Saturday to head out to the first annual Hang 20 Surf Dog Classic to support Jupiter’s Furry Friends Adoption & Clinic. Despite a threatening tropical storm, the weather on the beach was sunny and the pups showed off their surf skills on some choppy waves.
Check out the Palm Beach Post’s gallery of photos from the event.
My mom’s longtime friend, Susie Kelly Leverette, and her husband, Mike, entered their adorable dog Waldo in the competition.
Waldo is a six-year-old Tibetan Terrier that Susie and Mike rescued from Palm Beach County Animal Control when he was only four months old. This former pound puppy has some serious surfing skills!
Waldo began surfing on the Bahamian island of Eleuthra. Susie and Mike would head into the water on their boogie board and surf board, leaving Waldo alone on the beach. One day, wanting to join his owners in the ocean, Waldo followed another dog out to the surf line-up. Bobbing in the water, Mike lifted Waldo onto his board and they rode a wave in together. After that, the pup was hooked. Every time Mike would paddle out, Waldo would follow him. “People think that we made Waldo surf, ” said Susie. “But Waldo kept swimming out on his own.”
Waldo entered his first surf contest in November 2013 – the Florida International Dog Surfing Championship in Cocoa Beach. Waldo faced steep competition. Dogs had come from as far away as California to compete. He was up against Abbie Girl, a rescued Australian Kelpie who was the first dog inducted into the International Surfing Hall of Fame, and Faith the Surfing Pitbull, also a rescue dog and one of the most famous surf dogs in the nation.
Susie admits that she and her husband weren’t quite sure what they were doing at Waldo’s first competition. With only two people to grab the dog out of the water when the surfboard reached the beach, they exhausted themselves chasing Waldo and his board along the shoreline. Now that Waldo’s a pro, his owners are too – they formed Team Waldo, a group of friends to help catch Waldo after he rides in on a wave.
Waldo’s natural ability on the surfboard won him third place overall at his first competition. Since then, Susie and Mike have made him his own custom 7-foot “woody” surfboard out of mahogany and cypress, which Mike modifies for his claws with carpet and duct tape. He practices his balance on a boogie board, dabbles in agility training, and surfs in both Florida and the Bahamas. And last April, Waldo took home the grand prize at the first annual Sundance Ranch Easter Surfing Festival, also in Cocoa Beach.
On Saturday, Waldo won first place in the medium dog category, adding a surfboard shaped trophy to his collection. After such a big win, he (and his owners) were totally pooped.
As for us humans, we certainly enjoyed watching the pups “hang twenty” while supporting Furry Friends.
Keep surfing, Waldo!
Featured image from the Team Waldo Facebook page.