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Surfing dogs take over beach

France’s first dog-surfing event sees owners on the leash as pooches take to the water to ride the waves

SURF’S UP for dogs as France’s first canine-surfing event was held at Vieux-Boucau beach in Landes with dozens of owners and their pets taking to the water.

While the world’s best surfers were taking part in the Quiksilver Pro World Tour just a few kilometres away in Hossegor, pooches were taking their first steps on the water by trying out boogie boards.

Called Les Toutous Surfeurs, the day was the idea of two Biarritz vets, Damien Médan and Jon de Odriozola, who had heard from clients that they took their dogs surfing with them.

The event was a way to show what dogs are capable of and the day started with a demonstration by dog lifesavers from the Bordeaux Pattes à l'Eau group. Using large Newfoundlands – which have webbed feet and a water-resistant coat – they proved capable of hauling a grown man from the water.

Then, when it was the turn of the dozens of smaller dogs, it was the owners who were on the leash as they had to tie the boards to their foot in case they fell off. All dogs had been fitted with special lifejackets to save them from drowning.

Some of the dogs had already been surfing before and headed straight out to the waves, while others were encouraged by their owners to try it out. Some took to it like a duck to water, their paws overhanging the front of the board as they splashed through the waves. Others point-blank refused or cowered under their owner’s feet as they surfed the waves.

The event had originally been planned for September 7 in Biarritz but the mayor refused to waive the by-law banning dogs from the beach. At Vieux-Boucau they were given special dispensation for yesterday’s event.

See one of the more experienced dogs take to the water with well-known Biarritz surfer Al le Surfeur in this video on YouTube taken by Al's owner Bastien.

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