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Life's a beach for an obese sand-surfing beagle
- Ann Carranza
Friday, February 18, 2005

Seagulls squawk, circle and beg for treats. Pigeons purr and pout, wings out in mating rituals. Brisk breezes ruffle hair, salt spray kisses skin and the smell of fish is in the air. On a brilliant Saturday morning at Sharp Park Beach in Pacifica, Casey, a morbidly obese beagle waddles calmly alongside her owner. Just south of the Pacifica Municipal Fishing Pier, on the beach filled with dogs and their people, Casey surfs alone.

Alan Lubke, a card-carrying "Interstate Goodwill Ambassador," stops and speaks to strangers. "Casey is the world record holder in sand-surfing," the San Bruno resident boasts with a big grin. A graduate of the U.S. Military Academy and a retired lieutenant colonel, Lubke's friendliness takes people by surprise. Not knowing whether he is having fun at the expense of others, people listen to his spiel and wonder what this man and dog are all about. Lubke and Casey gather a small crowd as they meander along the seawall.

With retinue in tow, and followed by Lubke's brother, Norman, of Santa Ana (Orange County), Alan and Casey hit the beach. The minute Casey feels sand under her paws her demeanor changes. Wriggling with excitement, her long ears flap as she rushes to the waves where she laps at the salty brine, then bays with delight.

Commanding, "Slide, Casey, slide," Alan Lubke trots along with Casey. But the command isn't necessary. Casey dashes along the beach for a few yards, then drops her right shoulder and skids along the sand on her side like a beached sea lion. On the first slide, Casey surfs along about 6 feet. She jumps up to the applause of the small gathering.

Norman Lubke is amazed. "I never saw this before," he says. He is much more reserved than his brother and held back before the demonstration, skepticism written over his face.

Casey has been sand surfing for two or three years, Alan Lubke says. He used to walk Casey at a pond on a Pacifica golf course, but when she jumped off a 3-foot embankment and struggled to get out of the pond, Alan Lubke decided to try the beach. Casey took to the beach like, well, a duck to water.

Walking dogs on the beach seems to be a family affair: joining the Lubke brothers are Norman's daughters, Allison Sendejas with Boingo, a Dalmatian, and Shawn Lubke with Brighton, a small Australian shepherd.

A plethora of beagles, as well as golden retrievers and Labradors, mutts and a mastiff, strut on the beach this morning, many with attendant families. After greeting the other dogs, Casey is off again for more sand surfing. Twice more she runs, slams onto her right shoulder and whooshes down the beach. Her record distance for the day is a whopping 8 feet.

Ann Carranza lives in Healdsburg. E-mail Friday Forum submissions to penfriday@sfchronicle.com.

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