Meet Scooter, the adorable surfing therapy dog with a blue mohawk: ‘He absolutely changes lives’

‘Scooter absolutely changes lives’ (Picture: scooter_surf_therapy_dog/Mercury Press)

This is Scooter, the Poodle mix who went from being a stray on the streets of Portugal to being a therapy dog helping people with mental illnesses.

Scooter’s owner, Kirstie Coy-Martin, 48, rescued him back in 2016 and brought him to Chichester, Sussex after seeing his photo online and falling in love.

Now, Scooter and his blue mohawk acts as Kirstie’s assistance dog and helps out as a surf therapy dog. Multi-skilled Scooter also visits hospitals and care homes.

Kirstie, a police officer, said: ‘Scooter absolutely changes lives, and he’s certainly changed mine.

‘I knew I had to adopt him when a friend sent me a picture of him, he was looking at the camera, and it was like his eyes reached into my soul.

‘He’s just amazing, he’s so good at providing comfort to the people who need it.

‘If we visit a hospital or care home, he has a sixth sense for who’s the illest, or who’s missing their own dog, and he makes a bee-line for them.’

The pooch’s hair isn’t your typical fashion choice – Kirstie does it because she hopes it will help Scooter cheer people up.

Kirstie said: ‘I did it just to make people smile, and it always does.

‘You get the odd person that thinks I’m being cruel to him or something, but I’d never do anything he didn’t enjoy.

‘When people see him on the street they always want to stop and chat, so I get to educate people on therapy dogs and surf therapy.

‘We’re always trying to make people smile, even though some of the things we deal with are quite serious.’

Scooter helps both adults and kids with his unique surfing therapy expertise.

What a good boy (Picture: scooter_surf_therapy_dog/Mercury Press)

Things usually kick off with a cuddle while they chat about their needs before they end up in the sea together.

Kirstie said: ‘There was one boy who wouldn’t even get out of the car on his first session.

‘After a couple of weeks, he was surfing on his own with Scooter, and his mum said he’s like a new boy.

‘It really helps build up their confidence, and he works with adults as well.

‘We normally start all sitting in a circle on the beach speaking about whatever has brought them here.

‘Scooter normally has a cuddle with whoever is speaking, and then we get in the water, anything from paddling to surfing.’

The therapy usually starts with cuddles (Picture: scooter_surf_therapy_dog/Mercury Press)

Scooter began his training to become a therapy dog some months after Kirstie gave him a home.

She said: ‘When you get a rescue you never know how their behaviour is going to be.

‘He was so chilled when I first got him, but I waited a few months in case that changed.

‘At first, he took all the exams to become a therapy dog with a charity that sends dogs to care homes and hospitals.

‘Then, I saw something about surf therapy dogs online, and it was a lightbulb moment for me.

‘He’s so good at providing comfort to the people who need it’ (Picture: scooter_surf_therapy_dog/Mercury Press)

‘I love surfing, and he was already a therapy dog, so I wanted to combine the two.’

At the time of writing, it’s thought that Scooter is the UK’s only surf therapy dog.

She said: ‘Someone in California sent me a training pack for him, and we got started with it.

‘At first, it was just putting a surfboard in the garden and getting him used to standing on it, then putting it on pillows and cushions, so he could balance.

‘From there we went to a dog swimming pool. The woman who runs it was a bit surprised when I said what I was doing, but she said it was fine.

‘Then we were going out to the beach on calm days, and now he can surf on his own.’

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