The Dogs of Rincon
Sand, Surf, and Man’s Best Friend
Thursday, March 29, 2012
No trip to our fabled Queen of the Coast is possible without running into one or two furry and frothing locals patrolling the point. And no, I’m not talking about the more feral-looking wave riders who frequent Rincon. I am talking about Man’s Best Friend, those four-legged, tail-wagging stoke monsters that, for many surfers, are as big a part of their session as the wetsuit they wear or the board on which they paddle out. And while there are many pooches who can lay claim to the sand, cobblestones, and sticks of Rincon as their “home away from home,” the following five hounds are sure to be recognized if you surf the Queen with any regularity.
This spunky little fox-like dog all too frequently escapes from his leash and terrorizes the beach scene with ill-placed peeing and snarling standoffs against dogs four times his size. A 7-year-old Shiba Inu that came to Carpinteria by way of a breeder in South Dakota (that’s right; he is a mail-order dog), Tosh has been known to log long, long hours on the point even after his owner is done riding the wild surf. His human is a guy named Sky, and to hear him tell it, despite his cute and cuddly appearance, having Tosh as your primary surf partner is no easy task. “He is sneaky,” says Sky. “He will wait until I turn my back and start loading the boards in my truck and then split [back to the beach] as fast as he can. More than once it has taken me hours to get him back.”
A 3-year-old rescue dog from the deep, dark depths of Los Angeles, Dyl’n is typically found hanging in the shade of one of the many driftwood beach huts that line the Cove. Her human is a style-conscious goofy-foot longboarder named Leo; she is an old-souled sort of pooch who prefers to keep to herself and chill under the radar. Her shyness is soon forgotten, however, after she sees someone she knows get a good one through the inside. “That is when she gets all happy and energized,” explains Leo. “She will run down to the waters and meet them as they come in. It’s cool, but then I get mad because it means I have to clean her when we get home.”
Well on his way to his 14th birthday, Levi is perhaps the heaviest local Rincon has these days. The runt of a nine-cattle-dog litter born in Buellton, Levi generally posts up in the Cove and guards his humans’ stuff while they surf — a noble duty no matter what, but especially important when your owner is a professional surf photographer with heaps of expensive gear. Like most old salts, Levi has seen it all over the years and is rarely impressed enough by any other dog to even acknowledge their existence. Food, however, is something he never ignores. If you have snacks or a lunch with you down Rincon way, you better keep an eye out for the old bandit, as Levi has poached more than a few unattended lunch boxes over the years while his mom and dad harvest the rollers. “He loves to eat, and he will eat anything and everything,” says his owner Valerie. “I’ve never seen him actually steal a lunch, but I’ve sure heard all about it. You have to be careful with him.”