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Ever see goats surf? How these farm animals gained fame riding waves  

Goats surfing waves – well, that’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 celebrity surfing goat was scooped up by his owner, Dana McGregor, and placed on a massive inflatable surfboard to catch a couple of waves.

Cameras quickly appeared, with people snapping photos from the pier and on the sand, to mark the odd moment that friends will surely not believe unless they have evidence: A goat surfing waves in San Clemente.



This is not Pismo’s first surf session and surely it won’t be his last.

But just how did Pismo, a nearly 8-year-old goat, and sister Grover, 6, gain celebrity status by riding waves?

It started about a decade ago, when McGregor got an older goat, Goatee, to clear poison oak around his Pismo Beach property.

At one point, he had visitors from Africa in town who wanted to cook the goat for dinner. But by that time, McGregor and Goatee had bonded and he couldn’t bring himself to eat his new friend.

McGregor and longtime friend Ryan Valliere started taking Goatee everywhere they went, including to the beach when they went surfing.

It was on McGregor’s birthday, a small surf day with no one else in the water, that they decided to put Goatee on a board.

“He was like ‘Dude, today’s the day’,” Valliere recalled. “We put her on the board, she had really good balance. We were like ‘Let’s push her into waves.’”

Local news stations heard about the surfing goat and ran a segment, which got picked up by the “Today Show.”

“We had friends around the world that said ‘We saw you on the news,’”  Valliere said. “That’s kind of how it started from there.”

Anywhere McGregor went, Goatee would come along. And when she had a kid, Pismo, they brought him along to beaches up and down the California coast.

When they showed up at San Onofre State Beach in 2012, lifeguards were perplexed, not knowing how to handle goats on the beach. They ended up asking them to move down to an area where dogs were allowed.

When not out on the road, they surf mostly at home at their Central California beach. Pismo is the big wave surfer and has charged waves 10-feet tall, Valliere said.

“He’s taken some big waves. He got a huge wave, Dana fell off the wave and Pismo stayed on it,” Valliere said. “We only surf Pismo when it’s big, he only likes big waves.”

McGregor’s goal is to get Pismo and Grover to take a wave and get barreled at the Surf Ranch wave pool with world champion Kelly Slater on the same board.

“I want to crash a major contests, like the US Open,” he said.

The duo offers surfing goat surf lesson or hiking packages that comes with a freshly squeezed shot of goat’s milk. McGregor, a former soccer player, has a camp that he incorporates the goat into for people who want a unique experience.

They don’t discriminate. They offer “animal surf lessons” for people to bring their donkeys, dogs, pigs or goats.

“I love all animals,” McGregor said. “I just seemed to have gotten goats.”

McGregor has written a children’s book about Goatee, who died a few years ago.

“Many are saying this is the greatest surfing goats book of our generation,” McGregor says with a smirk while reading the back cover of “The Surfing Goat, Goatee.”

He has another in the works called “Pismo’s Party Wave” he hopes to release later this year.

There could even be a documentary in the works. They recently compiled 10 years worth of footage and are searching for the right person to put it together.

“It’s been a pretty hysterical journey. We just let everything happen as it did, it’s been really organic and fun,” Valliere said.

But mostly, their goal is to expand their special needs surf programs to bring the goats to kids who need a little extra cheer in their lives.

“I never knew what an impact goats could have on people’s lives,” McGregor said. “Just driving around with them and surfing with them is just next level. People just come alive seeing them.”

Still on McGregor’s car is a caricature of “Surfing Goat Goatee” on the driver’s side door.

If that image, or the license plate reading 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 make just about anyone do a double take.

“People just get so stoked,” McGregor said.

As soon as his small Prius – loaded with surfboards on top – turned into the small parking lot overlooking the San Clemente Pier, the smiles started to spread.

Adriana Denton, in town visiting from Tennessee, couldn’t help but try and pet the goats even before the car was put into park.

“I got to touch one of them, they are so cute,” she said. “I love them.”

The crew hung out on a grassy area checking out the waves and waiting for friends, while passerby stopped to pet the goats or feed them pellets. One girl, about to light her cigarette, had it snatched right out of her hand by Pismo, who nonchalantly gobbled it in seconds.

The goats made the road trip – about a seven hour drive if you include potty breaks for the goats – to meet up with the nonprofit Casa de Sanación, or Healing Homes, for kids in need of adoption or guardianship.

Kara Robbins, who heads the group from Imperial Beach, said the fun of hanging out surfing with the goats “unlocks their hearts” and helps them heal.

“They love the goats,” she said.

“Surfing alone is fun and then when you can share the sport with others, that’s even better,” McGregor said.

“Then, you surf with a goat and it goes beyond amazing,” he said.

When the goats reached the sand, McGregor scooped up Pismo and put the goat on a massive board that fits about four kids and two adults.

The waves were small, but they got a few fun ones, cameras snapping the odd sight.

“It’s Noah’s Arc,” quipped Karlee Aguiar, in town from Northern California. “It’s super random.”

Dave Hamidi, from Dana Point, couldn’t believe what he saw.

“That was amazing. I’ve never seen anything like that,” he said. “I’ve seen a dog surf, but this is something else. That was crazy.”

Source: Orange County Register

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