Paddle dogs take to the waves

RIO DE JANEIRO — Selva the surfer wore a lime-green life vest, but her colleagues braved the waters Thursday without protection. All could at least doggie paddle if they fell off their boards.

About a dozen four-legged practitioners of stand-up paddle boarding took to the waves with their human owners off Rio de Janeiro’s Barra Beach, practicing for a second annual competition next month in which canine-human teams race around buoys. Competitors are disqualified if the dog falls into the water.

“The idea started when I was on my board and my dog was tied up on the beach. I said to myself, ‘Man he wants to come to the water!’ so I put him on the board and he loved it,” said Marco Sarnelli, the event organizer.

The race on Feb. 16 is expected to draw as many as 50 dogs and their owners, from border collies to golden retrievers to mutts.

Iracema Braun, a stand-up paddle teacher who charges just over $100 a month to take dog lovers and their canines out on the waters twice a week, said that it’s “a sport everybody can do. You don’t have to be an athlete to do it … any dog can do it.”

Brazilian paddle board enthusiasts aren’t the first to take their pets out on the water.

Canine paddle board races in California have served as fundraisers for local shelters, and several websites dedicated to the sport include forum sections with readers trading tricks on how to get their dogs hooked on the sport.

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