Me with my muse, Bailey!

About Allison Shamrell Photography:

Thanks for visiting my blog! My name is Allison, and I work in San Diego, CA, capturing the personalities of dogs and cats of all sizes & temperaments. I do photo sessions on location and in-studio, wherever my clients prefer! My photography style is natural, playful & soulful.

Here on my blog, I tell the stories of recent sessions and events. You might even find an insight or two into the behind-the-scenes side of my business! I hope you have fun looking around!

If you would like to receive a quick little email to let you know when I publish a new post, see the button at the bottom left of this page! Thanks! :)

619-357-6624  ~  ~  3251 Adams Avenue, Suite C, San Diego, CA 92116

Officially Voted the Best Pet Photographer in San Diego, 2014-2017, by the San Diego A-List.

My Dog Bailey’s First Surfing Lesson in Del Mar, CA

If you’re a fan of the Facebook page, you already know the fun news: Bailey (my dog) had her first surfing lesson on Saturday! We met up with the So Cal Surf Dogs for their regular weekly lessons, and boy – I can’t possibly tell you how much fun it was!! We had an absolutely stellar time – and to our absolute shock & exhilaration, Bailey actually surfed!!


del mar dog surfing


I kind of still can’t believe that photo exists… My dog can SURF! It was an absolutely unforgettable experience, and we can’t wait to go back for more!


The whole day was lots of fun from the beginning: first, the dogs got accustomed to their boards on the beach. The So Cal Surf Dogs instructors were incredibly patient with the dogs, and they made sure not to rush or force anyone into anything uncomfortable. I really can’t say enough for their patience & concern for the dogs’ happiness & safety. They even had a professional dog trainer there, just to watch out for signs of anxiety in the dogs.


No anxiety here! Bailey was ready to go!

dog surfing in san diego

 Game face.

dog surfing in san diego

 And after a bit of instruction & reassurance, they sent us out into the water! There’s the handsome Mr. Shamrell with Bailey – he was so great at “launching” her!

fun dog surfing photos

And she surfed!!!

dog on surfboard

You’ll never guess what happened next. Right after she rode her very first wave – all the way to the beach! – I got stung by a stingray.

Yes, you read that right. Or at least the lifeguard thought I “brushed” into one, since I stepped on something poky and it immediately started hurting. So I was rushed to shore, but by the time I reached the lifeguard station, the pain had mostly gone away. I guess I confused the poor lifeguard on duty; he wasn’t sure if it was a bee or a piece of glass or a slight stingray sting that got me… but luckily, whatever it was didn’t stop me from getting back out there! I only missed a few of Bailey’s runs in the time it took for him to inspect my toes. I was too nervous to step out there barefoot, though, so I wore my sandals back out. Which didn’t make walking around very easy, but hey, I felt safer! :)

So while I was on shore, Mr. Shamrell & Bailey kept practicing, and eventually he was able to launch her without the help of our awesome instructor, Gigi. She’s a So Cal Surf Dogs volunteer, and was with us the whole time – and thank goodness, because we would have been lost without her! She was awesome at seeing what we were doing wrong and correcting us, and making sure Bailey was always in the right place & safe. There’s a lot to think about out there: your position relative to the board, your dog’s position, your hand positions, what the water is doing, when the next wave is coming, if there are any people/dogs/surfboards in front of or behind you… it’s not a simple thing!

dog surfing detailed

Here’s what we eventually learned: Bailey needs someone launching her, and someone else about 20 yards closer to the beach saying “staaaaayyyyy” with their hands up! If there’s no one to tell her to stay put, she would often make a break for it:

dog surfing wipeout


By the end of the lesson, the president of So Cal Surf Dogs was helping Bailey & Mr. Shamrell with a bit of technique. Looks like Bailey was one of the “quick learners” in the class! (ohmygoshiamsoproudmydogisagenius!)


dog surfing lesson


 As I shot these photos with my camera in one hand, my other hand was out and I was yelling “stay!” Haha!

fun dog surfing photos


I know she looks a bit uncertain in these photos, but I hope no one’s actually worried about her – Bailey was having a great time! I have to think that no one immediately starts smiling and waving the first time they learn how to stand up on a surfboard. Bailey was concentrating on staying up & staying put; she came running back to us after each run, and I figure that if she really didn’t like it, she’d make a beeline for the beach and stay there. She never did that, and was consistently wagging her tail between runs, so we felt good about hoisting her back up on the board each time. (Some dogs were much less sure about staying put on the boards, so they had leashes to connect their dogs to the boards. Got to say, I was proud of Bailey for not needing one of those!)

surf dog

Get this: after she passed both of us, she’d just turn around and stare at us! As if to say, “Mom? Dad? Where am I going?” Too cute! We couldn’t stop laughing!!

dog surfing funny


 Like I said – there were a few wipeouts. Not too many!

dog surf wipeout


We were all cheering for her! Goooooo Bailey!!

del mar dog surfing


My gosh, the coastline at Del Mar is beautiful.

del mar dog surfing


 Aaaaand she’s out!

del mar dog surfing

Want a behind-the-scenes look at how we “launched” Bailey’s board with the waves? Check it out:

dogs learning how to surf

Gigi’s help was crucial!

dog learning how to surf

 It was a beautiful, perfect day. So many people were there – Bailey’s “class” had about 8 other dogs, and there were 2 more classes that day!

del mar dog beach


del mar dog beach view


 Somehow, we always come back to this. Even with a life vest!

dog rubbing in sand


Ahhhh. It’s much better naked, apparently.

dog rubbing in sand


 Sigh. That’s my dog.

dog shaking in sand


If you’re interested in surfing with your dog in Del Mar (obviously I recommend it!), you can get more info & fill out the sign-up form here.

I’m already looking forward to our next lesson, as well as the upcoming dog surfing competition! Benefitting the Helen Woodward Animal Center, the Surf Dog Surf-A-Thon is September 8 at the Del Mar dog beach! I’ll definitely be there – Bailey needs a bit more training, I think, before making an appearance at an event like that – but I can’t wait to photograph all the action!

Seriously. I can’t think of a better way to spend your Saturday. We’ll be back out there soon! :)


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Allison Shamrell Pet Photography
Call: 619.357.6624 // Email: // Visit: 3251 Adams Avenue, Suite C, San Diego, CA 92116
San Diego's Best Pet Photographer, voted by the San Diego A-List 2014-2016
© Allison Shamrell Photography, 2016

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One Response to “My Dog Bailey’s First Surfing Lesson in Del Mar, CA”

  1. […] also loves Fiesta Island, and she’s been to Coronado before, and she’s used to doing more than just running around at Del Mar, but we hadn’t been to Ocean Beach in a while – so off we […]

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