Cherie the Surfin’ Frenchie

By Dan & Amy Nykolayko

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Before spending her summers on the beach catching waves, Cherie, a surfing French bulldog, began her life in Texas. Originally named Sarah, her owners had decided against keeping her in their family and were considering listing her for sale on Craigslist. Luckily, a volunteer from the French Bulldog Rescue Network caught wind of a Frenchie in need and convinced the family to surrender her to the rescue instead of leading her down a potential dark path into the unknown.

After being fostered in San Diego and receiving a new name, Cherie found her forever home in Orange County with Dan and Amy Nykolayko and their French bulldog Ace. She quickly settled into the family and, after many Frenchie meetups at Rosie’s Dog Beach in Long Beach, decided that the beach was her happy place. In 2013, after a hot tip from a fellow Frenchie owner, Cherie’s parents signed her up for a dog surfing lesson in Del Mar, California, which benefitted the Helen Woodward Animal Center. While Dan will freely admit that he initially thought, “This is the stupidest idea I have ever heard,” Cherie and her daddy had an amazing time playing in the ocean and, after that first lesson, they signed up for additional classes for the rest of the summer.

These classes build up to the annual Surf Dog Surf-A-Thon and, while Cherie didn’t place that first year, she and her family adopted a carefree attitude of “go out and have fun.” Even though she didn’t find herself on the podium, she did come in second place in fundraising, which has become an important part of Cherie’s surfing hobby. Since 2013, Cherie and her family have raised more than $15,000 through surfing for organizations that include the French Bulldog Rescue Network and the Helen Woodward Animal Center … these funds come from the sale of trinkets like buttons and T-shirts and from the kind and caring people who follow Cherie on Instagram.

In addition to competing at the Surf Dog Surf-a-Thon in Del Mar, Cherie has competed in all the major Southern California dog surfing competitions, including Surf City Surf Dog in Huntington Beach, the Imperial Beach Surf Dog Competition, and the Purina Pro Plan Incredible Dog Challenge, also in Huntington Beach. She’s even traveled up to the San Francisco Bay Area to compete in the World Dog Surfing Championships and, most excitingly, flew to Waikiki to participate in the 2017 Duke’s Oceanfest Going to the Dogs SurFUR Competition. While she’s garnered many awards over the years, Cherie and her family still approach each competition with the same attitude they had at their first event … to just go out and have fun.

You can follow Cherie on social media at @cheriethesurfdog on Instagram and Facebook and @SurfDogCherie on Twitter.

Surfing Fun

Helen Woodward Animal Center 2019 Surf Dog Lessons

Surf San Diego like the Surf Dogs do! Join Helen Woodward Animal Center and teach your dog to hang eight!

Sunday, July 14

Sunday, July 28

Sunday, August 11

Sunday, August 25

Lessons take place at Del Mar Dog Beach.

Register for lessons at: animalcenter.org/surf-dog-lessons

Imperial Beach Surf Dog

The Imperial Beach Surf Dog Competition, where fearless surFUR dogs will jump on their boards and hang 20! The Imperial Beach event is the original surf dog competition. Check out the action adjacent to the Imperial Beach Pier, where more than 60 dogs are expected to participate in this family-friendly event, which raises funds for the San Diego Humane Society.

Saturday, August 10, 2019, Del Mar Dog Beach surfdogevents.com/imperial-beach

14th Annual Surf Dog Surf-A-Thon

Get excited for the Helen Woodward Animal Center 14th Annual Surf Dog Surf- A-Thon, presented by Blue Buffalo!

Sunday, September 8, 2019, Del Mar Dog Beach animalcenter.org/surf-dog-surf-a-thon

McKenna Subaru Surf City Surf Dog®

The world-famous premier event on the dog surfing circuit is held annually in Surf City USA. The event brings together the community, surfers, dog lovers, families and pets for three days of doggone fun and fundraising!

Saturday, September 28, 2019, Huntington Beach, CAsurfdogevents.com/surf-city-surf-dog-

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