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Fur Real, Dude--Dogs That Surf

Surf sisters Kalani and Ricki.

Photo by Judy Fridono

Kalani and Ricki are a pair of surfin’ sisters tearing it up at local competitions. Golden hair dripping sea water, big brown eyes sparkling in the sun, they ride their boards with a finesse that belies their young age, shredding waves like the champs they are, balancing beautifully on their four legs. That’s four legs, each, by the way, as Kalani and Ricki (full name Ricochet) are golden retrievers who will be joining about 58 other dogs this Saturday at the 5th annual Loews Coronado Bay Resort Surf Dog competition, held at Dunes Beach in Imperial Beach from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

This popular competition, which always receives national press attention, is part of the resort chain’s Loews Loves Pets program and has become a hugely successful fundraiser for pet-related charities. This year, the dogs will be hanging 20 for the San Diego Police Canines, who serve, protect and save lives.

Every dog competitor will have 10 minutes to catch their top two waves and will be scored on confidence level, length of ride and overall ability to “grip it and rip it.” There are three heats: small dog, large dog and tandem for teams of either two dogs or a dog and human surfer. Judging will be conducted by Mayor Jim Janney of Imperial Beach; Teevan McManus, of Coronado Surfing Academy; and Kathleen Cochran, general manager of Loews Coronado Bay Resort.

Adding to the excitement at Saturday’s Surf Dog Competition will be some big-time star power and a Hollywood connection. At last year’s event, several scenes were filmed for the film, Marmaduke, which will premiere at Dunes Beach Saturday evening. Although the premiere is not open to the public, all the Surf Dog contestants (and their humans) are invited, and will meet the Great Dane who plays Marmaduke, as well as some of the movie’s actors, including Owen Wilson and George Lopez.


Hangin' 20.

Photo by Loews Coronado Bay Resort

Kalani, who is Miss November in the 2010 Surf Dogs Calendar and a certified therapy dog, is totally psyched for the big event. At only 2-and-a-half-years old, she lives with her human companion, Andra Lew of San Diego, and has been training hard to defend the first place title that she took last year in the large dog division. She’s an avid swimmer and runs frequently at Fiesta Island to strengthen her back legs forsurfing. In addition to competing solo, she’ll be sharing a board in the tandem division with her littermate, Ricochet, who will be surfing solo, as well.

Ricochet, known in the doggie surf scene as Rip Curl Ricki, lives in Escondido with Judy Fridono, a certified professional dog trainer. Ricki had aspirations of becoming a service dog for people with disabilities, her natural instincts for chasing birds made her a little too unpredictable for that work . She found her true calling, rather, as a SURFice dog, with a personal initiative called "Surfin' for Paws-abilities" raising awareness, and funds for charitable causes, including over $22,000 in the last six months. She specializes in surfing with people with disabilities, and her story can be seen in a very moving video which has gone viral on Youtube.

So, does your canine have the stuff to compete against Kalani, Ricochet, or any of the other hot doggers on Saturday at the Loews Surf Dog competition? There’s still time to sign up. Registration fees run $50-$55 per dog, and benefit the San Diego Police Canines. There is no charge for spectators.

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  • City: Coronado