Surfing dogs try out for spot on Rose Parade float in Pasadena

PASADENA >> Dozens of daredevil dogs showed of their surfing skills at the Rose Bowl Saturday during an audition to be one of eight surfing dogs riding atop a float in the upcoming Rose Parade.

The Lucy Pet Foundation 2017 Rose Parade Float will feature eight skilled canine surfers, who will ride waves in a 75-foot-long semi-trailer filled with 5,000 gallons of water, which will be adorned from top to bottom with flowers. The float is expected to set records as the longest and heaviest float ever in the Rose Parade.

But how does a dog parent know if their four-legged friend can surf? That’s where the auditions come in.

“These surfing auditions are really a fun time,” Lucy Pet Foundation and Lucy Pet Products founder Joey Herrick said. “It’s great to see the smiles on the dogs, owners and spectators faces.”

Twenty-nine dogs of all breeds and sizes lined up to try their paws at riding a surfboard on an artificially generated wave, with varying degrees of success.

• Photos: Lucy Pet Foundation’s 2017 Rose Parade float tryouts for surfing dogs

Veteran surfing dogs Sully, named for celebrated commercial pilot hero and 2010 Rose Parade Grand Marshal Chelsey “Sully” Sullenberger, and Lola were on-hand to show the hopefuls how it’s done.

A tiny one-year-old Maltese named Sophie eagerly took the ride, and a swim.

Though it was her first time surfing, Sophie is an adventurous dog, said her owners, Andy and Jane Tang of Santa Monica.

“We’ve been taking her swimming, horseback riding,” Andy Tang said. “I take her to Venice Beach and she goes skateboard with me.”

“We like to expose her to everything,” Jane Tang added.

Some of the dogs showed no interest in riding the surfboard. Others were naturals and clearly enjoyed themselves, dashing up the stairs to take another turn or barking longingly as owners walked them away from the wave machine.

A pug names Pugsly was for more interested in swimming in the pool than staying on the board. A husky-German shepherd mix named Hapa also refused to stay on the board, electing instead to doggy paddle.

Behind the fun of surfing dogs and Rose Parade Floats, the Lucy Pet Foundation is dedicated to reducing the number of perfectly healthy and adoptable pets who are put to death in the U.S. every day due to overpopulation.


“I want to stop the 80,000 dogs and cats every week from being euthanized,” Herrick said. “That’s what it’s all about.”

After founding a successful dog food company decades ago and ultimately selling the business in recent years, Herrick said he and his wife turned their attention to the Lucy Pet Foundation, providing animal-related services, such as spay and neuter operations, throughout Southern California.

The foundation is a labor of love for Herrick, who draws no salary from the organization. He founded Lucy Pet Products, which currently offers pet shampoos and ammonia-eliminating kitty litter, to support the Lucy Pet Foundation.

Saturday’s auditions took place amid the 11th annual Race for the Rescues, a charity fundraiser for more than 30 animal-related charities organized by one such group, The Rescue Train.

Race for the Rescues has raised $3.25 million to help save the lives of animals in Southern California since it’s inception, according to spokeswoman Jennifer Castaneda.

In addition to raising funds to help animals, the annual event also helps find permanent homes for dozens of adoptable pets, which are brought to the event from local animal shelters.

Local animal shelters bring adoption-ready dogs and cats in trucks, event co-founder Delilah Lowd explained.

“Our goal is, at the end of the day, the shelter trucks go back empty,” she said.

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