Galley Wench Tales

Exploring the world through the people we meet
and the food they eat.

Cocoa Beach Surfing Unleashed Dog Surfing Championship promo image
While the image is obviously photoshopped, this even it real. I came. I watched. I made a video.
Image credit to (plus my red text overlays).

As our countdown continued — Easter Sunday marked 22 days to move date — I had a conundrum. Did I finally do my first sunrise kayak, with the friendly folks from Space Coast Paddling Society? Or go to the “Surfing Unleashed” Dog Surfing Championship at Cocoa Beach?

cocoa beach florida dogs unleaded surfing competition
Cocoa Beach contests get ready for the “Dog Unleashed” Surf Competition while the crowd gathers to take in the show.

Was it possible to do both? Maybe, but I couldn’t count on it; they were each in opposite directions from home. The paddle was South, about a 35 minute drive. Cocoa Beach was North, about a 45 minute drive.

I was going for a long kayak the next day with Space Coast Paddling Society, which required such an early start due to the drive to take out, I needed to drop my kayak off the prior day at the nice folks who were willing to carpool, taking me and “my” kayak.  I was thrilled to not be the driver, nail-biting my way with a 12 1/2 foot kayak strapped poorly to the top of my tiny Prius hatchback, which has no good attachment points underneath on the front.

*The West Melbourne West Marine store where I work part-time generously loaned me their used kayak for my personal use. It’s saved me a bundle in rental far more suitable for group kayaks than my dinky inflatable that’s really a glorified inner tube with a small skeg that can be paddled. It’s fine for puttering or a helluva good forearm workout. 

people and dog watching cocoa beach florida dog surfing championship
This Havanese is the only dog  I saw on Easter
who didn’t let her paws touch sand at Cocoa Beach, Florida.

A little over a month ago, I joined a friend at the Cocoa Village art show. There I saw the most indulgent pet owners… The exceedingly hairy duo sharing a child’s stroller each sporting goggles took the cake — something I suspect the owner would’ve indulged them in as well unless perhaps she was worried about whether they needed to be on a gluten-free diet. There were numerous almost as outrageous pampered pet examples. That includes my neighbor who ate at the local dump but bought his lab chateaubriand from West Melbourne’s Whole Foods equivalent, Lucky’s. He moved into a house so his dog could have his own swimming pool. 

dog contestant cocoa beach surfing championship
I just got a GoPro and am still sussing out how to use it. I wonder if he gives lessons?

As I was with a relatively new friend, I opted to not take photos. Afterward I mentioned that choice to my friend who said he wouldn’t have minded at all. I kicked myself, and made note to seek another opportunity to capture this spectacle.

“Surfing Unleashed” Dog Surfing Championship struck me as the perfect opportunity. There were of course the canine surfers, something I only saw once in Broome, Australia. That dog was just learning…. Besides, how many places could I really expect to see surfing dogs… compete? Nor had we yet stepped foot on the renowned Cocoa Beach, its sandy oasis made famous by Ron Jon and a multitude of surfers.

There were far more opportunities left to still do a sunrise kayak before moving, but the Easter “Surfing Unleashed” Dog Surfing Championship, was a once a year opportunity, and wasn’t sure the odds me to being the right place and time in the future. And it was also for a good cause I support as a volunteer dog walker and kitty visitor — the Brevard County Animal Shelter.

another eccentric watcher of the cocoa beach dog surfing championship
Dog owners weren’t the only characters around that day.

Turns out the surfing competition didn’t start until noon – later actually, as it didn’t start on time. Nonetheless, we did have ample opportunity to drop my kayak off for the next days trip, find parking that didn’t require a $20 fee, and get a chance to talk to the racer’s owners and see the canine competitors primped and pretty, pre-seawater dousing.

While as a former golden retriever owner, I always have a soft spot for the goldies, they were surpassed by two returning champs, each with a story and full-fledged support teams.  

waldo tibetan terrier dog contestant cocoa beach surfing championship
Waldo, a Tibetan terrier rescue,  and “Mom,” looking much nicer “before.”

Waldo is a Tibetan terrier, and a rescue dog himself. He’s now 10, and his owner said he was retiring.  He was cute as a button, with his fluffy do wearing a lei. You’ll have to watch the video to see how he surfs. I will say at the very least, he’s got the moves.

Fat Pig Jack Russell contestant cocoa beach surfing championship
It’s not an illusion — this Jack Russell has only three legs.
But she can shred!

Fat Pig is the rather unflattering name for the other returning champ. She posed nicely and it was easy to miss that she was missing a leg! When I did notice, I was told she lost it when she was one year old to an alligator! There was nothing fearful about her, and she’s certainly managed to do more than most of us humans or four-leggers! She not a dog’s dog though, and her owner took care to keep her well away from her canine brethren, surfers or non. Not sure if Fat Pig boasts a web page, but like Team Waldo, his peeps wore t-shirts prominently sporting their support.

easter at cocoa beach florida; dog surf chamionship watchers
This Easter trio was happy to pose at Cocoa Beach Florida.

The people watching, pets in tow, was as good as expected, No buggies though. Other than a Havanese in a bicycle basket, unlike the Cocoa Village art show, these 4 leggers got around on their own accord.  They were surprisingly well behaved, too, especially considering how prolific they were.  I heard scarcely a bark and did not observe any dogfights or people bites. Cocoa Beach recently passed a controversial dogs allowed on the beach ordinance, so it’s good to see it working harmoniously.

Want to see who won? Not to mention some impressive doggie down surfing poses in action?

Watch this video

Did I make the right choice?

If I had to choose only one event, then yes, as awesome as the morning was for a kayak paddle, I’m glad I made the choice I did. Knowing how late the surfing competition started, I might have pulled off both, though I would not have had the chance to talk to the surf champ’s owners and it would’ve been tough to get my kayak dropped off on time for the next day’s kayak.

The only real regret? Not giving Wayne more time to sleep in. I definitely owe him one for that.

dog barks boos and brews melbourne florida promotional header
Another Brevard Animal Shelter annual fundraiser, Barks Boos and Brews. Image pilfered from

And missing seeing Cocoa’s famed “Surfing Santas” and another crazy canine cash cow, Halloween’s Barks, Boos and Brews dog costume contest. Hmmm. Does that mean I need to spend another winter here?

Location Location
The “Surfing Unleashed” Dog Surfing Championship was at Lori Wilson Park, 1500 N Atlantic Ave., Cocoa Beach, Florida. It’s just one more way Cocoa cements its status as a doggone friendly place.