Goats riding the waves – well, it’s a sight you don’t see every day.
It didn’t take long for a buzz to start on the beach with people on the sand shocked and amused on a recent day as Pismo, the famous surf goat, was picked up by her owner, Dana McGregor, and placed on a huge inflatable surfboard to catch some waves.
Cameras soon popped up, with people snapping photos from the pier and on the sand, to mark the odd moment friends surely won’t believe unless they have proof: a goat surfing the waves in San Clemente.
This isn’t Pismo’s first surf session and it sure won’t be the last.
But how did Pismo, a nearly 8-year-old goat, and his 6-year-old sister Grover gain celebrity status while riding the waves?
It started about a decade ago, when McGregor asked an older goat, Goatee, to clear the poison oak around his Pismo Beach property.
At one point he had African visitors in town who wanted to cook the goat for dinner. But by then McGregor and Goatee had bonded and he couldn’t bring himself to eat his new friend.
McGregor and his longtime friend Ryan Valliere started taking Goatee wherever they went, including to the beach when they were surfing.
It’s McGregor’s birthday, a short day of surfing with no one else in the water, that they decided to put Goatee on a board.
“He was like ‘Dude, this is the day’,” recalls Vallière. “We put her on the board, she had a very good balance. We were like, ‘Let’s push her into the waves. “
Local news stations heard about the surfing goat and aired a segment, which was picked up by the “Today Show”.
“We had friends all over the world who said, ‘We saw you on the news,’ Vallière said. “That’s kind of how it started from there.”
Wherever McGregor went, Goatee would come. And when she had a child, Pismo, they took her to the beaches of the California coast.
When they showed up at San Onofre State Beach in 2012, lifeguards were puzzled, unsure how to handle goats on the beach. They ended up asking them to go down to an area where dogs were allowed.
When not on the road, they mostly surf from home on their central California beach. Pismo is the big wave surfer and has loaded 10-foot-high waves, Valliere said.
“He took big waves. He had a huge wave, Dana fell off the wave and Pismo stayed on it, ”Vallière said. “We only ride Pismo when he’s big, he only likes big waves.”
McGregor’s goal is to get Pismo and Grover to take a wave and hit the Surf Ranch wave pool with world champion Kelly Slater on the same board.
“I want to crush major competitions, like the US Open,” he said.
The duo offer goat surf lessons or hiking packages accompanied by a shot of freshly squeezed goat milk. McGregor, a former football player, has a camp in which he incorporates the goat for people who want a unique experience.
They don’t discriminate. They offer “animal surfing lessons” for people to come with their donkeys, dogs, pigs or goats.
“I love all animals,” McGregor said. “I just seemed to have goats.”
McGregor wrote a children’s book about Goatee, who died a few years ago.
“Many say this is the best surfing goat book of our generation,” McGregor says with a smirk as he read the back cover of “The Surfing Goat, Goatee”.
He has another in the works called “Pismo’s Party Wave” which he hopes to release later this year.
There might even be a documentary in the works. They recently compiled 10 years of footage and are looking for the right person to put it together.
“It was a pretty hysterical journey. We just let it all go the way it did, it’s really organic and fun, ”said Vallière.
Most importantly, their goal is to expand their special needs surfing programs to bring goats to children who need a little more joy in their lives.
“I never knew what impact goats could have on people’s lives,” McGregor said. “Just driving with them and surfing with them is just a new level. People come to life when they see them.
Also on McGregor’s car, there is a cartoon of “Surfing Goat Goatee” on the driver’s side door.
If that image, or the license plate that says SRFGOAT, or the goat hood ornament isn’t enough to turn your head, the two goats sticking their heads out of the car windows will do just about anyone. do a double take.
“People are so excited,” McGregor said.
As soon as her little Prius – loaded with surfboards on top – entered the small parking lot overlooking San Clemente Pier, smiles began to spread.
Adriana Denton, on a city tour from Tennessee, couldn’t help but try to pet the goats even before the car was parked.
“I got to touch one of them, they’re so cute,” she said. “I love them.”
The crew dragged over a grassy area to watch the waves and wait for friends, while passers-by stopped to pet the goats or feed them pellets. A girl, about to light her cigarette, had it snatched from her hands by Pismo, who nonchalantly swallowed it in seconds.
The goats made the trip – about a seven hour drive if you include potty breaks for the goats – to meet the nonprofit Casa de Sanación, or Healing Homes, for children in need of adoption or guardianship. .
Kara Robbins, who heads the Imperial Beach group, said the fun of surfing with the goats “unlocks their hearts” and helps them heal.
“They love goats,” she says.
“Surfing alone is fun and when you can share the sport with others it’s even better,” said McGregor.
“Then you are surfing with a goat and it goes beyond amazing,” he said.
When the goats reached the sand, McGregor picked up Pismo and placed the goat on a massive board that could accommodate about four children and two adults.
The waves were small, but they had a few fun ones, with cameras capturing the eerie sight.
“It’s Noah’s Bow,” joked Karlee Aguiar, from northern California. “It’s super random.”
Dave Hamidi, from Dana Point, couldn’t believe what he saw.
“It was amazing. I’ve never seen anything like it, ”he said. “I saw a dog surfing, but that’s something else. It was crazy.