RANCHO SANTA FE – June 30 marks the kickoff of Helen Woodward Animal Center’s Surf Dog Clinics. The classes, scheduled June 30, July 28, Aug. 11, Aug. 18 and Aug. 25, prep beach-loving pups for the annual “Surf Dog Surf-A-Thon.” The September surf competition will feature a special canine competitor whose owner has worked hard to serve his country. Naval ABH Airman Tyler Silvestri is in for a big surprise when he returns to his beloved dog Stella, as Silvestri’s mother will have taught the dog to surf.Silvestri’s mother, Jan Marshall, clearly remembers the day her son brought his puppy home. “He told me he had picked her up because he was afraid I would be lonely when he went off to boot camp,” said Marshall, “but he couldn’t fool me. That dog had Tyler’s heart the minute he laid his eyes on her.”Silvestri named the tiny brown-and-white boxer-terrier blend, Stella, and made no secret of his affections for her. The soldier traveled to boot camp in Pensacola, Florida, and journeyed as far away as Hong Kong and the Persian Gulf during his Deployment last November, but when his company was given the opportunity to give individual, live-video “shout-outs” to their family members at home, Silvestri’s went to Stella. “He said he couldn’t wait to come home and give her a big, fat, juicy steak,” said Marshall. “I didn’t care who his shout-out went to. I was just so thrilled to see his face.”The shout-out gave Silvestri’s mother an idea. “Stella makes Tyler so happy. Why not train her to do something special?” Marshall heard about Helen Woodward Animal Center’s Surf Dog Surf-A-Thon and Surf Clinics through an old high school friend who volunteers at the event each year. “Stella is practically a gymnast!” said Marshall. “She can do flips! I feel pretty certain she’ll be able to pick up surfing.” Marshall will find for sure when she and Stella attend the first Surf Dog Clinic at Dog Beach in Del Mar.The Surf Dog Clinics are taught by Kahuna Bob’s Surf School and Pet Expert Rob Kuty, from San Diego Pet Training, and cost $45 per dog (one adult per dog), including the required life vests and surf boards. Each clinic is limited to 25 dogs per class and runs about an hour in length. Registration is now open for all the Doggie Surf Clinics, scheduled Saturdays at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. for five weeks. Dogs who take to the waves are encouraged to register the Sept. 9 event. All proceeds from the classes and the annual competition go toward the animals and programs at Helen Woodward Animal Center.For more information or to register, visit surfdog.kintera.org or call (858) 756-4117, ext. 356 or stop by Helen Woodward Animal Center at 6461 El Apajo Road, Rancho Santa Fe.
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