Southern California is at its sunshine best. Near Del Mar, Dog Beach is packed with playful canines who seem to outnumber their owners. Tiny poodles dash under the bellies of Great Danes while mutts run between the legs of German Shepherds. The mass of moving fur is dripping with sea water. Whenever one shakes, they all seem to shake, sending out a shower of wet sand. Watching the free for all, a newcomer might think that they just walked onto the set of a Disney movie.
Occasionally, much of the carnival pauses. Heads turn to look toward the breaking waves. Far out in the sparkling water, among the boogie boarders and splashing children is Abbie, an Australian Kelpie, surfing alone down the face of a five foot wave toward the crowd on shore. The humans on the beach fumble for their cell phones. then pause to snap photos. Parents point out the spectacle to their kids as Abbie, standing on all fours, rides her board toward them with all of the confidence of a seasoned surfer. About halfway in on her long ride, she suddenly spins around like a child searching for approval, looking for her owner. Surfing backwards, she spots Michael Uy. He is still far behind in deeper water, but sends both fists into the air and gives a triumphant holler. Abbie, turns around again, and steers for her waiting fans on the beach.
A tourist is surprised as Abbie surfs past him.
Michael swims, then gallops toward the shore. Abbie plays with some of the dogs, but only for a minute. As soon as Michael is close enough to grab the surfboard and gives the cue, "up-up", Abbie leaps onto his back. With paws on his shoulders, and her chin resting on Michael's head, the two best friends head back out into the oncoming surf, in search of another perfect wave.
Michael found Abbie 10 years ago in a rescue shelter - traumatized after she was abandoned on the side of a road. He wasn't a dog trainer. In fact, Michael had never owned a dog before he met Abbie.
Michael and Abbie head out for another wave.
When asked how he knew Abbie was unique, he says, "She was the only one at the shelter who wasn't barking like crazy with all the rest. Abbie was patiently sitting there, waiting, knowing that her time would come."
Abbie knew. Indeed, her time would come. Michael was her perfect match.
"Abbie had issues," Michael remebers. "She was afraid of squirrels and cats. She was even afraid of the dark. Ironically, Abbie was also afraid of the water."
Michael instinctively sensed that her lack of self confidence and trust could slowly be rebuilt if they engaged in sports together. What Abbie could not have known then was that in the coming years she would ride a longboard, short board, boogie board, paddle board, and hold 2 Guinness World Records. Abbie had no idea that she'd co-star in a Hollywood movie, appear in TV shows, commercials, travel the world and be inducted into the International Surfing Hall of Fame. She certainly had no clue back then that her new dad would take her snowboarding - then paragliding. Most of all, she could not have imagined the depth of devotion and love that only a guy like Michael could give her.
Abbie even has her own corporate sponsors. GoPro is one of them. When asked if she has an agent to help get her jobs, Michael answers, "No, she does not have an agent, but she does have her own lawyer. Last week she made more money than I did."