Swimming to Japan

I had only been surfing for a few months when my friend Brian and I hit the breakwater in Half Moon Bay. In typical NorCal style, it was overcast and freezing. The beach was scattered with die-hard locals and confused tourists wondering where the hell the sun was.

Brian and I zipped into our wetsuits, paddled out in the cold, sharky water and tried to catch some waves. This was not easy because we sucked and the waves were terrible. We had been in the water for maybe a half an hour when we noticed a group of people on the shore frantically trying to get our attention.  They were all waving and pointing towards something in the water.

If you spend anytime surfing in what some journalists have coined “the blood triangle,” your brain immediately jumps to, “Oh fuck there’s a great white shark” Your blood turns colder than the ocean and you wonder if you’re looking particularly seal-like at that moment.

I frantically scanned the water for a fin or dark silhouette, when I realized that we were in imminent danger of being passed by a golden retriever. I looked at Brian and he shrugged at me and then we both looked back at the dog as he swam past us and kept heading out to sea.

“Where the hell does he think he’s going?” Brian said.

“Japan?” I suggested.

“We should probably turn him around.”

I nodded. The dog was about 100 yards out when we caught up to him. I kept hollering “here, boy!” over and over again like a Republican senator in Vegas.

“Let’s hook your leash up to his collar,” I said, “he should just follow you in.”

Brian and I attached his board leash to the dog, who seemed weirdly disinterested in being rescued.  Brian started paddling in. I was following. The dog was headed due west. Apparently someone had thrown the ball way too far, and that dog wasn’t giving up on it. That Golden Retriever might have been dumb as a box of rocks, but he was no quitter.

ball, ball, ball, ball, ball, ball...
ball, ball, ball, ball, ball, ball…

So you know, paddling surfboards is not a particularly easy task. Try it sometime. Then try it with a damn dog towing you the other way. That’s the kind of shit they pull on “The Biggest Loser.”

“This stupid dog is not playing ball,” Brian said. Stupid was an understatement regarding this animal.  We were sitting on our boards catching our breath, with the dog slowly towing Brian back out, blind canine determination coursing through his inbred veins. I would have killed for a tennis ball. At one point we tried to convince the dog to climb up on the long board and be pushed in. No dice. The only thing we could do was take shifts towing the damned thing.

As we reached the shore break the harbor patrol finally showed up with a Zodiac power boat and impeccable timing.

“Hey guys can we help you?” they shouted. We were ten yards out so it was pretty much a moot point.

“We got him” I gasped. We’d worked our asses off and they were not gonna steal our glory. I think Brian may have flipped them off.

We hit the beach. I don’t think anyone involved with the ordeal got onto the beach on two legs. I was gassed, Brian was gassed, the dog was damn near dead from the exhaustion of prolonging its own rescue.

We got a small round of applause, the owner walked up. Obviously a tourist from somewhere that thinks all beaches in California look like the ones Hasselhoff used to protect.

“Thanks a lot. It’s her first time at the beach”

He walked the world’s stupidest dog back to their rental car.

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