On a cold and cloudy morning about halfway down the Baja Peninsula, we were chasing the first southern swell of the year. The lineup was full of old gringos and local groms, both ripping. In between sets, I spoke with the local kids about the new skate ramps that were built in their local park, and how they were bummed that the best skater in town had died before giving them a try.
I was shocked. As the southern Baja surfing/skating community is pretty tight, I was in disbelief that I hadn’t hear of a fellow surfer/skater passing away. The kids messed with my head for a while longer, then clarified that there were talking about Tillman, the surfer/skater dog who became an internet sensation a few years ago. The kids pointed out a house further up the road with two little concrete dog shelters, and a gust of cold north wind hit my face. A shiver ran down my spine.
A few months later, the weather was warming up. There had been a few swells and a lot of waves, and I found myself at a yoga studio near Cerritos Beach. As I was warming up before checking the surf, I told the tale of Tillman to Kim, the owner and teacher at Baja Zen. As it turns out, she had organized a dog surfing competition for the past couple of years, and Tillman took the trophy home just a few months before passing away last year.
As it turns out, this year’s edition is right around the corner. On June 5th, dogs and their owners (or partners) get to have a blast surfing one of the most famous waves in Baja. And when they do it, they also help support a local dog rescue and shelter organization. All of the proceeds will help get canines off the streets, help them recover from illness, and find a new, loving family willing to give them a home–and possibly even a surfboard to shred on.
If you’re looking for the next adventure for you and your dog, book a flight to Cabo, sip on some margaritas, and get a nice summer tan on the golden sandy beaches of Baja. It’s a worthwhile trip for a worthwhile cause.