Scooter, a poodle-cross, became the UK’s first ever surf therapy dog after being saved from a pound in Portugal – he was going to be put to sleep before owner Kirstie stepped in to save him.
Meet the UK’s first ever surf therapy dog, Scooter. Rescued from being put down as a stray in Portugal, the poodle-cross now lives in West Sussex where his special skills and bright blue mohawk have made him a local star. Kirstie Coy-Martin, 48, rescued him back in 2016 after seeing his photo online: “When he was found in Portugal they were to take him to a pound, but it was full, so he was going to be put to sleep,” explains Kirstie. “I saw his picture and his eyes and fell in love with him. So, I brought him over here.”
Scooter the surfing dog and Ander
A keen surfer herself, full-time police officer Kirstie taught Scooter how to surf. To start with, he learnt to balance on the surfboard using cushions to resemble rocky waves before progressing to the sea. Kirstie said: “I follow lots of surfy things and dog things, and discovered one day that over in America there was such a thing as surf therapy dogs. I thought, wow, I wonder if I could teach Scooter to surf.”
Scooter learnt to balance on the surfboard using cushion
The dynamic duo now spend their days helping others as part of their not-for-profit surf school, ‘Scooter’s Surf School.’ Scooter also visits patients in hospitals and care homes.
This summer the impressive pup has been working with the Wave Project, a national charity helping children and young people with physical, mental and social issues, and who run 6 week surf therapy courses.
He made brilliant progress with a 13-year-old Ander who struggles with severe anxiety. After missing the first two sessions because of his condition, Scooter was able to encourage Ander out of his car, into a wetsuit and eventually onto a surfboard. By the end of the sessions, Ander wanted to join his local Wave Therapy surf club. Mum Laura Etherington said she was blown away by the change in her son: “I have never seen him love a sport as much as surfing but I honestly don’t think we would have got him in the water without the both of you,” she told Kirstie.
Scooter also took part in a ‘One Wave Bracklesham Bay’ charity surf, raising £2000 to get a specially adapted surfboard so he can ride waves with physically disabled children, took to the beach to campaign with Surfers Against Sewage about the pumping of sewage into beaches in his local area and is even set to release a children’s book called ‘Scooter The Surfing Dog Finds His Forever Home.’