San Diego’s Animal Athelets!


Fatty uses his front paws to push his skateboard down the street.


A skateboarding ferret and a windsurfing dog?  Some things you just have to see to believe…

Fatty is one cool dude who never fails to turn a lot of heads while zipping around town on his skateboard in San Diego, California.  The reason for all of this attention is that Fatty is a ferret.   This furry athlete is now a poster boy, ahhh, rather poster ferret of fitness, but that wasn’t always the case.  In fact, before Fatty took up the sport, he was one lump of plump fur who hated any form of exercise.

“I adopted two ferrets and one of them had a real weight problem,” said Kristopher Kem.  “I named him Fatty because he was so fat.  I was worried about his health and afraid he was going to die.”

Kristopher tried everything he could think of to get his pal to shed some weight.  However Fatty was a couch potato.  All he wanted to do was lay on the sofa and watch TV.

Fatty and Kristopher


“Fatty was so chunky he couldn’t even walk,” recalled Kristopher.  “He was so overweight all he could do was drag his back end around.  We tried to get him to chase a ball; we tried playing with him by pushing him around a bit.  Our other ferret Renee loves to chase a ball and when we pushed her around she loved to push back, but Fatty just laid there and didn’t show any interest in doing anything but taking naps.  Basically we had a ferret who liked to eat junk food and watch TV.”

Just when it seemed like Kristopher and his friends had exhausted all their resources to get Fatty off his fat behind a miracle occurred.  It didn’t come in the form of a burning bush, or a bright light in the sky; the miracle appeared in the form of a skateboard.

“One day I was riding my skateboard around my apartment and Fatty jumped on with me,” Kristopher said.  “For whatever reason, Fatty fell in love with skateboarding.  He would run after it, then hop on for the ride.”

After a few weeks of playing on the skateboard Fatty began to shed his unwanted pounds faster than you could say “Jenny Craig.”  It didn’t take him long to perfect the fine art of cruising around the apartment on his new adult toy, in fact Fatty didn’t even need the assistance of his human pal to go for a ride.  To everyone’s amazement Fatty was going solo, earning him a moniker as the coolest piece of fur on 6-wheels.

“It was amazing how much weight he lost,” said Kristopher.  “He’s now down to a normal weight and he exercises regularly.  Fatty has become a good little skateboarder.  He will chase the board, jump on and ride it all over the place on his own.”

Kristopher and Fatty are fast becoming local celebrities. Everywhere they go crowds gather and the clicking of camera shutters fills the air as the once overweight ferret and his human pal skateboard their way through the mall, leaving smiles and mutterings of “only in California” in their wake.


Howdy hangs 20 on the nose of his sailing board


On the other side of town there is another critter that causes quite a stir when demonstrating his athletic ability.   A lot of surfers can hang 10, but how many can hang 20 AND wag their tail at the same time?  When it comes to hot dogs, the top dog is Howdy, a 7-year-old windsurfing Basset hound from Ocean Beach California.

“The key to success in sail boarding is to have a low center of gravity,” said Howdy’s owner Barbara Ayers.  “And Howdy has the lowest center of gravity of any windsurfer I’ve ever known.”

Barbara is the Assistant Director of Media Relations for the San Diego Zoo, but when she isn’t showing film crews around the famous park, she can usually be found riding the waves at Mission Bay with her constant companion Howdy.

“I love to windsurf, so I would bring Howdy to the beach with me and tie him to the car while I sailed off, “recalled Ayers.  “One day he just walked down to the board and jumped on and said, ‘Come on, I’m ready to boogie,’ and that was the start

of his windsurfing career.  He loved it, and Howdy was a natural on the board.”

Completely at home on the water, there was a time when this feisty pooch almost never made it to the beach.  In fact, Howdy came dangerously close to being put-down as an incorrigible pet.

“Howdy was a problem dog, which like all puppies who go though growing pains, required a real commitment,” says Lauren Joniaux, Assistant Director of the San Diego Humane Society.  “Howdy was very fortunate that he found a friend like Barbara who had the patience and commitment to stick with him.”

“He just likes to belong,” Ayers says.  “He had been abandoned by his first two owners and I think kids or anybody else who went through that would have a really hard time trusting anybody.”

Now, Howdy knows that he belongs with Ayers; as they are inseparable.  Barbara’s license plate even reads “HOWDY.”

As much as Howdy enjoys an afternoon of body surfing or an exciting game of tug-of-seaweed, he still loves riding the waves on a sailboard better than anything else.  Looking very cool in his specially designed flotation vest, Howdy has ridden waves from California to Mexico.

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