Well-traveled ‘Pet’ Teaches At Sunset Beach Elementary

Alana Folen
Wednesday - October 01, 2008
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Rex Dubiel and Surf Dog travel the country to promote literacy - and are ready to take on the world. Photo by Nathalie Walker, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Surf Dog is making big waves not just in Hawaii, but throughout the world. Just back from Osaka, Japan, it’s likely he’s been in more photos than Britney Spears has appeared in tabloids and has sat in more laps than Santa could count at Christmas.

With his felt covering and silk-screened markings, Surf Dog has a lovable demeanor that is infectious to anyone he meets. However, it’s his signature raised paw of greeting and welcome, pointed ears and scribbled heart across his chest that melts the hearts of young and old. As many would guess, Surf Dog likes to treasure each one of his many experiences and remembers each one on his own personal online blog (surfdogsunsetbeach.com). It has more than 500 photos savoring Surf Dog’s memorable moments.

His creator and caretaker is Rex Dubiel, a third-grade teacher at Sunset Beach Elementary School, along with her niece and artist Julia Fiedler. They’ve made it known that although Surf Dog loves to travel and meet new people, he has an even more important message to share with the children of today - a lesson about literacy, healthy living, ecology, geography, love and loss.

“Surf Dog is all about literacy,” Dubiel explained. “He promotes literacy through his journeys. He also is very adamant about healthy living and being kind to others. When you’re doing the right thing for other people and being kind, you live a better life.”

Dubiel created Surf Dog in January 2007, but said he didn’t start blogging until late May of that year. He was inspired by Dubiel’s students and the unfortunate passing of her previous dog.

“My husband and I were taking the Amtrak from L.A. to D.C. and back,” Dubiel recalled. “I wanted to communicate with my kids throughout my journey. I love dogs, so I created a dog for me to take on my trip, and from there we took a bunch of photos and began to write a blog. My students loved it!”

Everyone has a story, said Dubiel, and she especially wants her students to walk away with a better sense of worldly understanding after listening to the adventures of this friendly and mischievous canine.

“The blog definitely helps to get kids involved in geography because they have to find out where he is,” she said. “I want to make it interesting for an 8-year-old. I love being enthusiastic about learning and books - that’s why I did the blog. It’s a safe environment for the kids to learn and have fun.”

Dubiel hopes that Surf Dog can set an example for his online followers to maintain a healthy lifestyle. “He loves walking on the beach, going surfing ... A friend of mine said he would take Surf Dog to surf Waimea.”

Never idle for long, Surf Dog already has been across the nation and back, with stops in Chicago, Boston, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and L.A., to name a few. Next, he’ll be gearing up for a trip to Moscow.

He definitely knows how to kick back and have a good time, however.

“His middle name is Fun. He absolutely loves people and has just the right amount of spunk in him. His heart is in whatever he does.”

For the latest updates on Surf Dog’s adventures, visit www.surfdogsunsetbeach.com. To order Surf Dog merchandise, log on to http://www.kahuku.org.

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