Friday, May 22, 2009


After visiting a friend in Germany who had a Bernese Mountain Dog, Gabi and I decided that was it. When we get home, we're going to get a Bernese Mountain Dog. Well it took more than a year, but we heard of one over in Arizona. We decide we would go look. Well, we drove to Tempe Arizona and when we saw her, it was all over. Fell in love instantly. We grabed her and drove right back to San Diego.

At an early age, Nani was diagnosed with hip dysplasia.
Several Veterinarians and orthopedic specialist were consulted
Some suggested various surgical procedures and some suggested various medications. Still others suggested various physical therapies.
In the end, we decided we would try swimming.
We took Nani to Mission Bay. The idea was that I would paddle my kayak and Nani would swim behind. Problem was, Nani would be crying the entire time. I would pull onto the beach and Nani would jump into the kayak. So I ended up paddling her around the bay. The other dogs got wind of this and before you knew it, I was paddling three dogs around the bay. Clearly this was not going to work. (I was getting in shape, but this was never the plan)
So I tried swimming out 50 yards or so from the beach and tread water waiting for. (Nani wasn’t far behind) Problem was, she was crying the entire time. I think she thought I was drowning. So I would hold on the nap of her neck and Nani would pull me back to the beach. This would be repeated a half dozen times. This turned out to be a pretty good workout.
When I would go surf Kayaking, Nani would run back and forth on the beach, you guessed it, crying the entire time. One time the kayak came back to the beach with out me (this happened more than once) and Nani jumped in. So, I pushed her out into the surf. I pushed her into a wave and she sat there like Cleopatra all the way to the beach.
A close friend witness this curious behavior. She told us about a surfing contest for dogs (The Helen Woodward Surf-A-Thon) and suggested that we sign Nani up. I thought she was nuts and didn’t give it much thought again. About six months later she called me to remind me that the surfing contest was coming up in two weeks and wondered if I was going to enter Nani. We decided we would take her to dog beach in Del Mar that weekend to she if she could surf. I had a $99.00 foam top surf board I purchased at Costco to teach our friends children visiting from Germany.
I swear, this is the honest truth. I walked out into the water with Nani close behind. I set the surfboard down in the shallow water and Nani jump right up onto the surfboard. I pushed her out through a few waves, turn her around and pushed her into a small wave.
She rode that wave all the way to the beach. We could not believe it! We tried again and she did it again. When we got home, we signed her up for the surfing contest.
The day of the contest was a typically beautiful sunny San Diego day. We entered Nani in the xtra large dog division. She won first place (a gold metal) in her weight group and moved on to compete in the finals. She won second place (a silver metal) over all. Not bad for two weekends of practice. Don’t forget, she has hip dysplasia.

Since then, we’ve taken her several more times just for fun. She loves it!
When she hears the sound of the Velcro of my board shorts, she goes nuts, She starts crying, jumping up and down, barking and starts nosing me towards the car. This doesn’t stop until she’s on the board in the water.
I can’t tell you how many times people have come up to us to say it made their day to watch her surf. She regularly draws a crowd.
We don’t make her do this. If she didn’t want to do it, we would not force her.
I'm always watching her and am close by to be sure she’s o.k.
Nobody should force their dog to do anything they don’t want to do.
There’s a better than average chance if you go to Dog Beach in Del Mar on any sunny weekend, you’ll see this very happy Bernese Mountain Dog surfing. If this doesn’t make you smile, nothing will!

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