PACIFICA (KPIX 5) — The World Dog Surfing Championships captivated crowds in Pacifica over the weekend. And while the competition is over, one of the Bay Area’s top surfing dogs continues to inspire others.
13-year-old Abbie Girl is a canine celebrity and champion on the dog surfing circuit. Her owner, Michael Uy, says they have helped each other stay afloat in life.READ MORE: Panel Selects Archie Willams as New Name for Drake High in Marin County
“Did I ever hit the lottery when I found this one,” said Uy.
Their story begins in 2006, when Uy was hard hit by the recession.
“I lost my job. I had a relationship that didn’t end well, and actually lost the house,” he recalled.
Uy decided to adopt Abbie, a rescue from the Humane Society Silicon Valley.
“I thought maybe if I adopted a dog, it would give me, like, a purpose,” Uy said.
Abbie, too, was traumatized.
“She was afraid of a lot of loud noises, fast moving objects,” he said.
They bonded, as they ran and swam on the beach.
One day, when Uy borrowed a surfer’s board and rested her on top, she stood up:
“The guy whose board it was said, ‘Well she looks ready to go. Why don’t we see if she’ll ride it?'” Uy remembered with a smile. “And we gently tipped her into a wave and she rode the whole thing.”
Uy and Abbie both learned to surf, opening new “paw-sibilities.”READ MORE: East Bay Fire Departments Ready Their Resources for Dry, Dangerous Season
Since 2008, Abbie’s entered competitions and won dozens of medals. She even holds the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest wave surfed by a dog on the open ocean.
An Australian Kelpie, she can balance and steer her custom-built board.
“They’re actually bred to round up sheep and jump up and run across their backs,” noted Uy.
Uy and Abbie’s popularity has swelled over the years.
They’re featured in a video made by animal welfare advocate group Mutual Rescue, which highlights the benefits of adopting homeless animals for people.
The pair is also an inspiration to James Wall.
He also has a rescue dog that surfs. Uy has given him tips in the sport.
“Just the passion, the bond the two of them show. The passion Abbie shows for being out there on the water,” Wall said.
And the time on the water prompted Uy to start Blue Tribe, a company that helps predict flooding and natural disasters along the coast.
He named Abbie the Chief Happiness Officer.
“She’s given me more than a purpose,” explained Uy. “It’s completely changed my life.”
Although Abbie did not earn a medal in the past weekend’s dog surfing contest in Pacifica, she did receive the “All Heart” award for being a veteran in the sport.MORE NEWS: Evacuations Ordered as Wildfire Burns in Butte County North of Chico