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Dog surfing is fun for everyone, and I mean everyone!

In many cases, other humans can serve as supporting roles.


Also referred to as "Server," "Handler," "Owner," or "Canine Propulsion Unit" (CPU).

Way to have fun if you have two human owners - one on shore, one in water.

Also serves an important role in competitions.

Dual role as Safety in shallow water.

New - Catcher role for off shore wave riding.


Also referred to as the "Safety Man," "Guard," "Diver," or just "person on the inside," this brave human stays in the impact zone and rescues you if you wipe out and can't get back on the board. The Safety can get pounded just waiting around if the waves are big, and may do a lot of treading water or swimming just to stay in place, so make sure you pick a human who is strong. Remember, they also need to be able to lift you back on the board, or swim your tail into shore if necessary!

The Safety is typically used in competitions, particularly with rough water and heavy wave conditions. In fact, the role was first invented in the 2009 Purina Incredible Dog Challenge surfing event (photo right). And they were indispensable at one competition in Huntington Beach, where the waves were about 15 feet on the outside, and still 5-6 feet and HEAVY on the inside. The surge was so strong and we were too far out for the Catcher to make it out if there was an accident, so we had Safeties waiting in the Zone just in case. In competitions, the Safety also helps save time because they can send you directly back out to your Pitcher by meeting them halfway.

Outside of competition, it's sometimes a good idea to appoint a Safety if you're surfing with a pack of buddies, even in mild conditions. When there are a lot of dogs in the water at once, collisions may occur since some puppies haven't figured out how to steer, or - worse - their humans haven't figured out how to pitch. Also, with a lot of dogs in the water, sometimes someone can wipeout but no one notices in all the commotion. Remember: your pitcher usually loses sight of you for a few seconds just after releasing you because they get swallowed by the wave. And if the wave crest is higher than you, they won't see you for most of the ride (unless your tail is up, like I sometimes do). So, a Safety can be a good human to have around.

Oh, in competition or recreation, make sure the Safety is someone who knows how to rescue dogs, and someone you and your pack know and recognize. The last thing I want to see when I'm all amp'ed by a bad wipeout is some strange human whose butt I haven't sniffed coming after me and trying to grab me.

To all Safeties: THANK YOU!


Wipeouts do happen!

Credit: © 2009 Jake Gonen

Safety Surf Divas at the Purina Competition © 2010 Jake Gonen