Surf dog owner says pups need a place on Wildwood's beach

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Photos by Christie Rotondo/Ariella, Wildwood’s own surfing dog, rides a wave in. Photos by Christie Rotondo/Ariella, Wildwood’s own surfing dog, rides a wave in. WILDWOOD – Despite dense fog, wind and mist, Ariella made sure she got all four paws up on her 8-foot foam board in the Bennett Avenue surf.

A Staffordshire terrier and English pointer mix, Ariella has added surfing to her resume  in addition to her status as a champion trick dog and an American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen.

“I just wanted her to be well-mannered,” said Lisa Sockriter, Ariella’s “fur mom.” “Pit bulls have a bad rep.”

Ariella spent most of Friday in the ocean, trying to master facing forward on the board when she goes over a wave. Sockriter joined her in the water with a wetsuit, and would reward the 3-year-old pup with a game of catch on the beach for her good work.

Ariella just picked up surfing a month ago, but can already ride a wave. Now she is training to compete in a surf dog exhibition in Wildwood, if organizers can get it approved for this June.

“I’m not a good surfer, but I always wanted a dog that could surf,” Sockriter said. Before picking up surfing, Ariella and Sockriter would come down to the beach and play fetch in the ocean, but only on good weather days from the fall through the spring.

On Friday, when Ariella wasn’t surfing, she was running up and down the beach playing catch, bringing the ball back to Sockriter, who would make her do a trick before she would fling the ball down the beach.

For high-energy dogs like Ariella, Sockriter said Wildwood’s lack of a year-round dog park or beach means traveling to get in enough activity for her dog.

“This isn’t a dog where a walk is going to do it,” she said. “She needs a job.”

That’s why she is hopeful Wildwood city officials will pass an ordinance Wednesday that will designate a dog-friendly beach in the city. Wildwood commissioners planned to vote on the ordinance 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, after the Leader’s deadline for print publication.

Adam Steinberg, who organizes surf dog competitions and events in Florida and California, said if the dog beach passes, Wildwood would be an ideal location to expand their competitions.

“It’s new, it’s family orientated, kid friendly and it’s got a positive message,” Steinberg said of dog surfing. “Whenever you accommodate everybody’s best friend, you attract more people then you thought you would.”

Ideally, he would like to set up a small-scale dog surfing exhibition for the weekend of June 21.

Ariella shows off her goggles before she goes surfing Friday, May 9. Ariella, Wildwood’s own surfing dog, shows off her goggles before she goes surfing Friday, May 9. The proposal could also be a boost for tourism.

“Dogs are our family,” Sockriter said. “If I was going on vacation I wouldn’t want to leave her home.”

To those who are against the proposed park, Sockriter suggested that pets also need to be taught manners by their owners.

“If I can teach my dog to do all this stuff, anyone should at least make their dog well-mannered,” she said.

Ariella has garnered a pretty substantial fan base of pet lovers on her Facebook page Ariella’s Adventures in Wonderland. More than 1,000 people have liked her page, and Sockriter posts as Ariella frequently each day – as well as gives updates about animals in need of “forever homes” and advocates for adoption, spaying or neutering pets, and how to be a responsible “fur parent” through the page.

Sockriter adopted Ariella after her friend’s dog gave birth to a litter of puppies. Around that time, Sockriter’s friend died, leaving Sockriter to find homes for the mom and pups.

“I picked (Ariella) up and she was covered with fleas at the shelter, and I couldn’t put her back down,” Sockriter said.

Since, she has worked to teach Ariella plenty of tricks to not only keep her happy, but to spend quality time with her puppy.

“You’re only with your dog for a short amount of time,” she said. “You should make the most of it.”

Email Christie Rotondo at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or comment on this story at thewildwoodleader.com.

Lisa Sockriter, Ariella’s owner, positions her on the board during their surf lesson. Lisa Sockriter, Ariella’s owner, positions her on the board during their surf lesson. Lisa Sockriter helps Ariella during a lesson. Lisa Sockriter helps Ariella during a lesson. Ariella gets right back up on her board after a wipe out, while owner Lisa Sockriter gets splashed. Ariella gets right back up on her board after a wipe out, while owner Lisa Sockriter gets splashed.


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