Source: Daily Star (Extract)
Posted: July 25, 2021

A street dog from Portugal who was about to be put down, got a second chance at life when he became UK’s first surf therapy dog.

Scooter the poodle cross puppy was once a street dog in Portugal. When he was taken to the pound, they couldn’t fit him because it was too full and so he was expected to be put to sleep.

Luckily, he was then rescued by Milu’s Corner, a sanctuary that’s committed to not turning any dogs away. Scooter was cleaned, vaccinated, castrated and then put up for adoption, from there he was brought to the UK by his new owner.

He now spends his time riding the waves with owner Kirstie Martin as a superstar surf therapy dog, reports TeamDogs.

The owner-and-dog duo now spend their spare time helping others with their not-for-profit surf school, Scooter’s Surf School.

Kirstie told TeamDogs: ‘Scooter was chucked out on the street as a puppy and found by someone running in the road. When they found him they were going to take him to a pound, but it was full, so he was going to be put to sleep.

Watersport-lover Kirstie, who is also a full-time police officer, has always had a passion for surfing and paddleboarding so she decided to use this hobby to both help others, and spend more quality time with Scooter.

She said: “On Instagram I follow lots of surfy things and dog things, and I discovered one day that over in America there was such thing as surf therapy dogs. I thought, “Wow, I wonder if I could teach Scooter to surf”, so we could combine my love of surfing and spend more time together, and also, he could become the UK’s first surf therapy dog.’

Already a therapy dog for Pets as Therapy, Kirstie then followed a training course by the most famous surf therapy dog in the U.S. called Ricochet, to teach Scooter the surfing ways.

Scooter first learned to balance on the board, which involved using cushions to resemble rocky waves. He then progressed to a doggy swimming pool.

Kirstie said: ‘I told the owner of the swimming pool about Scooter and she thought I was joking. I made sure he could swim properly and that he was confident in the water before taking his board. When I took it, he ran and jumped straight on it from the poolside.’

Scooter’s training then progressed to the sea, where he learned to balance and ride the waves into the beach. The whole process took eight months.

They soon progressed to tandem surfing on a long board where Scooter would stand on the front and Kirstie paddling the board behind him. They’d catch small white-water waves and Kirstie would pop up behind him and surf to the beach.

Kirstie said: ‘People started asking how I taught him, and they wanted to teach their dogs. I started seeing people plonking their dogs on boards without any proper training and you could see the dogs were scared.

‘So, I thought I’d teach people how to do it properly, so people can enjoy the hobby with their dog and build a stronger bond. Through doing the training Scooter and I developed really good trust.

‘Lots of people were getting paddleboards and surfboards over lockdown so, if I did a course, it would benefit the dogs and also make conversations about rescue dogs and therapy dogs.’

Kirstie also teaches beach safety to her clients, some who have never paddleboarded before.

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