Snoot to Snoot: Q&A With Surf Therapy Dog Haole
What can’t dogs do? They hold important positions in our healthcare, police, and military services. They give us a reason to get outside and move our butts. They’ve got their own social media fans. And now, they’ve taken over the waves!
(Photo credit: Erik Eiser)
Ah, to be a famous surfing dog. Not all dogs can surf, and the ones that do are known for their tubular abilities. One such dog is Haole, an 8-year-old Labrador Retriever from California. A talented pooch who’s been strutting his stuff on a board since 2013, Haole uses his talents to provide surf therapy for special needs kids. His laidback attitude also secured him a spokesdog spot for a watch company, and is the official Ambassadog of Ventura, CA.
We got a chance to sit down with Haole, and his mom and dad (Kim and John Murphy). They gave us a real behind-the-board look at this amazing pooch:
Q: How did Haole get on the surf board?
A: Haole was 4 years old when he attempted to get on John’s board when John rode a wave into shore. We figured he was telling us he wanted to surf! We brought out a bigger board the next day. Haole got right up, stood solid and comfortable.
Q: When did you know he was a natural?
A: We knew Haole was a natural immediately. His first day on the board he was extremely comfortable and his balance was spot on. We thought that maybe he was a surfer in his past life! He literally knows how to shift his weight, and his paws when he feels the movement of his surfboard. That is not something you can teach a dog. It’s pure instinct.
(Photo credit: Cindy Olsen)
Q: We met Haole on the Lucy Pet Products Rose Bowl Parade float–how did he get that gig?
A: We had been invited in April of 2016 to try out for the Lucy Pet Products Rose Parade float. Unfortunately, we were not able to make it, so we were excited to hear that there were try-outs closer to our home last October. Haole was amazing! He was calm and eager to perfect his try out.
It was in December that we received the long awaited call that Haole had made it. John and I were so proud!
Q: Tell us about Haole’s work with autistic children – how does his surfing tie into his therapy work?
A Walk On Water (AWOW) is the nonprofit organization that we are a part of. AWOW provides surf therapy for special needs children and their families. These children, who we refer to as athletes, can be intimidated and nervous about being in the ocean; seeing Haole, a DOG that is out there surfing, gives them much needed encouragement that it is safe and fun. Not only is Haole out there surfing, but he will also be out in the lineup for the athletes to come over and see him, perhaps give him a treat or just say hello! The instructors that are on the boards with the athletes will use Haole as a calming factor. A Walk On Water has changed our lives and Haole is doing his part to change lives, too.
(Photo credit: Erik Eiser)
Q: How does Haole’s laidback surfer attitude make him perfectly suited to work with autistic children?
A: Haole gives off the “safe vibe” as I like to call it. There’s something about how calm and laidback he is that is sensed by all that meet him. He is incredibly approachable and gentle. He allows our AWOW athletes to express their emotions without being the least bit affected. He simply loves their attention. So when Haole isn’t in the water, he is playing on the beach and going for walks with them.
A: We know that Haole is a spokesdog for a watch company, Aulta Surf Watches. What kind of work does he do for them? And does he actually wear a watch?
A: Haole has the honor of being an advocate for Aulta Surf Watch Company. Haole promotes the watches on his social media and has a discount code for anyone to use! Even though the watch bands are not suited for Haole, John and I love wearing ours! The watches are designed for surfers. They are water resistant and come in many cool styles, and affordable.
(Photo credit: Ventura Visitors Center)
Q: How did he become the official Ambassadog for the city of Ventura?
A: Even though we are a surfing family, we moved to Ventura just three years ago. Haole had definitely made a name for himself in Ventura with all the local surfers, but once we moved here the Visitors Center contacted us. They had wanted an Ambassadog and who better than a surfing dog?!! We are proud to represent the city in which we live and love. Ventura is an extremely dog friendly community and Haole helps bring awareness to some of the cool pet friendly businesses of Ventura through their blog.
Q: Let’s talk about Haole’s shameful obsession with… BUBBLES! How did he become addicted to bubbles? What’s he doing to curb his bubble problem?
A: if Haole sees bubbles floating around he is sure to go after them! His bubble obsession makes for some fun play time in our backyard with his younger dog brother Primo who is also obsessed by them! We decided to not try to cure this bubble addiction, well mostly because he so enjoys running after them. It’s great exercise, right?!!
If you’re as enamored with Haole as we are, you’ll want to stalk… we mean follow… his every move on social media. Follow Haole’s surfing adventures on Instagram and Facebook.
Amy Tokic, Editor of PetGuide.com, is a passionate animal lover and proud pet parent of Oscar, a Shih Tzu/Chihuahua cross, and Zed, a Japanese Chin. Her love of animals began in kindergarten, when she brought her stuffed dog Snoopy into class with her every day. Now, she writes about her adventures in pet ownership and tirelessly researches products, news and health related issues she can share with other animal enthusiasts. In her free time, Amy loves perusing used book and record stores, obsessing over the latest pet products available and chasing squirrels with wild abandon (a habit attributed to spending too much time with her pooches).
More by Amy Tokic