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Scooter the surfing therapy dog raises awareness of mental health via salt water and smiles

Scooter the surfing therapy dog
(Image credit: Facebook / @scootersurftherapydog)

The occupation of ‘surfing therapy dog’ might not be one that you’d heard of previously, but it’s one that has saved more than one dog - including the one it refers to.

Having been turfed out of his home to live on the streets of Portugal as a puppy, Scooter the poodle is now the star attraction at Scooter’s Surf School, a not-for-profit surf school with her new owner, Kirstie in Sidlesham, West Sussex.

On how she met Scooter, Kirstie told TeamDogs that he was discovered as a stray. “When they found him they were going to take him to a pound, but it was full, so he was going to be put to sleep.

“The pound contacted Milu’s Corner, further north in Portugal – a sanctuary who are committed to not turning any dogs away. They had 750 dogs. He was vaccinated, castrated, and put up for adoption. I saw his picture and his eyes and fell in love with him. So, I brought him over here.”

Having a lifelong passion for watersports – in particular surfing and paddleboarding – Kirstie was inspired by Instagram posts showing that surfing therapy was a thing. 

Scooter Surf Therapy Dog

(Image credit: Facebook / Scooter Surf Therapy Dog)

Coupled with her desire to spend more time with Scooter, she embarked on a training course put on by Ricochet, an American surfing therapy dog, to teach Scooter how to surf.

Having first learned how to balance, Scooter progressed onto doing so in a swimming pool, before moving onto the open sea. 

Before long, other dog owners became interested, with Kirstie and Scooter being quick to show them how it’s done.

Scooter the surfing therapy dog

(Image credit: Facebook / @scootersurftherapydog)

“People started asking how I taught him, and they wanted to teach their dogs. I started seeing people plonking their dogs on boards without any proper training and you could see the dogs were scared.

“So, I thought I’d teach people how to do it properly, so people can enjoy the hobby with their dog and build a stronger bond. Through doing the training Scooter and I developed really good trust.

"Lots of people were getting paddleboards and surfboards over lockdown so, if I did a course, it would benefit the dogs and also make conversations about rescue dogs and therapy dogs.

To find out more, check out Scooter and Kirstie’s Facebook (opens in new tab) page.

Steve writes and proofreads buying guides, news stories and advice for Pets Radar, drawing on his lifelong experience as a pet owner. Currently sharing his house with two cats and a dog, he draws on the many highs and occasional lows of pet ownership he has borne witness to in his writing. He has worked in publishing for 15 years as an editor, sub editor and writer on a range of titles, such as SciFiNow, How It Works, All About History, Real Crime and Horrorville. You can follow him on Twitter @stevewright22