IT’S BIG in Hawaii, but now a new sporting phenomenon has come to the popular tourist town of Lahinch – dog surfing.
A local lady, Raquel Noboa, who is originally from Salamanca in Spain, organised what it believed to be Ireland’s first dog surfing event in the county Clare town last weekend.
Over 150 turned out to watch the event, in which seven dogs took part, but not all were keen on the surf.
“A couple of the dogs weren’t too happy about it, but as soon as we saw that we took them off. Others love it. My own dog absolutely adores it and has been doing it for a couple of months,” explained the qualified dog trainer, who has been living locally for 14 years.
Dogs of many breeds took part, including two labradors, a retriever, spaniel, lurcher, bichon and pogue.
Permission was received from Clare County Council, who previously imposed a ban on dogs being allowed on the beach between the months of May to September and from the hours of 10 to 6pm.
“They were a bit shocked initially but were very accommodating,” she said of the local authority.
Ms Noboa organised the event to raise the profile of her company mypetreview.com, which rates services for pets.
The event was organised in conjunction with the Lahinch Surf school run by famous surfer John McCarthy, who appeared in the iconic AIB advert riding the waves near the Cliffs of Moher.
He described the spectacle as “the coolest thing I’ve ever seen.”
The dogs were supplied with life jackets and boards, and a collection was held on the days for the charity, Irish guide dogs for the blind. If the sport gathers momentum in Ireland, she hopes it may be possible to hold a national dog surfing championship in Lahinch next spring.
There are no plans at present to introduce the sport to other animals, she said, noting that: “Cats hate water”.