Surfing goes to the dogs

By Corky Carroll


There seems to be a resurgence of surfing dogs these days. They are even having surfing contests that are for them — holy barkalot.

I have known a few great surfing dogs through the years. One that I remember very well was Ajax. Ajax belonged to San Diego surfing legend Skip Frye. Skip used to surf with Ajax on the nose of his board at Tourmaline Canyon, a spot whose name should officially be changed to “Skip Frye Surfing Beach.” He would take him up to San Onofre sometimes, too.

One of my favorite surfing dogs was Misha. Misha was a really cool little schnauzer that was the surf partner of Antonio Ochoa, one of the first and longest running surfers in Mexico. He would paddle out with her on his board, and she would jump off and swim over to my board and hang out while waiting for a wave. When a set came, Antonio would give her a whistle and she would dive back in and be back on his board in time for the takeoff.

If anybody dropped in on them, she would bark her head off until the offender would pull out. And then when they paddled back out, she would snarl at them. If a really good wave would come along that Antonio wanted for himself, he would toss her off and she would tread water until he got back out there. She would sometimes also dive off the front of his board and dog-bodysurf. It was cool to see. And if she got tired of surfing, she would simply jump off and swim to shore.

I had a dog that surfed once. His name was Boris. This was back in the mid-1960s, when I used to surf Cotton’s Point all the time. One day, Boris ran down to the edge of the water when I was getting ready to paddle out, and he jumped onto my board. So I figured what the heck, I would take him out for a wave. We took off on a pretty big wave, too, maybe 6 or 7 feet. Everything went well for most of the wave. But as we were coming into the shore break, the wave was really lining up and I was not sure how to handle the inside section with a dog sitting on the nose of my board. In my moment of indecision, I fell off the back and Boris was set free, hanging paws over the nose as he got totally barreled. Bummer for Boris was that the wave closed out right on the sand and he ate it like a rat — and man, when a dog eats it like a rat, it is a big time wipeout. Boris and my board rolled up on the beach together, and that was the last time he ever got anywhere near the water. Sorry Boris.

Hats off to all the surfing dogs out there.


Registration now open for Surf Dog Surf A Thon

Five-time U.S. and three-time international surfing champion Corky Carroll writes occasional columns on surfing and beach culture in our region. He’s currently offering adventure trips to surf with him at his home near Zihuatanejo, Mexico. E-mail him at