There’s more to Lola the amazing skateboarding bulldog than good grinding.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Skateboarding legend Rodney Mullen started skating when he was 8 and turned pro at 14. But he’s got nothing on local skateboard prodigy Lola Sampson. Now 1, she’s been riding since she was only 12 weeks old.
On the gray cement ramps at Monterey Skate Park at Lake El Estero, the 35-pound English bulldog scampers after her board, hops on awkwardly and rolls up a steep quarter-pipe while one hind leg struggles to stay on. A light spray of slobber trails off her tongue.
“She’s obsessed with it,” says Sandra Sampson, her owner, as she watches young skaters mesmerized by her talented dog. “She will skate until her nails get filed down and start to bleed. The up side is that I don’t have to trim them– she does it herself.”
Lola’s paws aren’t the only things that get torn up. She also has gone through five skateboards already.
“I [first] bought her a cheapo board from Target, but she chewed it up,” Sampson says. “Sunshine Surf Shop gifted her a second board.”
The concrete-carving canine has created a bit of fan a base around Monterey beyond the skate park at El Estero. Sampson says the bartenders and bouncers at Crown and Anchor love her.
“They allow dogs on the back patio, so I’ll let her skate over there,” Sampson says. “I took her over one night and people were drunk and dying laughing.”
After a few times of skating around town with her dog, Sampson started noticing the reaction Lola’s mad skills were receiving and decided to use her popularity for community good.
“I figured she loves skating and by being a dog could help out other dogs,” she says. In recent weeks Lola has become the spokesdog for Animal Friends Rescue Project, a local nonprofit that helps find homes for unwanted pets that will celebrate its 10th anniversary in June. Lola got to ride her board in front of their banner in the parade that kicked off Good Old Days in Pacific Grove last month. She’ll also be skating in the Feast of Lanterns pet parade in July.
“We’ve had people come up to us [at events] and ask if [Lola] is around and when they can see her,” says Alexandra McCabe, executive director at AFRP. “Everyone at the adoption center knows her and she hangs by people’s desks while they work.”
McCabe says Lola’s spunk allows her to be a good mascot for the group.
“The most important thing is that she brings awareness to the cause of adopting animals to save them from euthanasia,” she adds.
Aside from using her skateboarding for charity work, Lola also has skated on film. A few weeks ago, Chris Rodriguez, a CSU Monterey Bay student, was making a video to profile a nonprofit in town for his final project video. He selected AFRP and used footage of Lola riding. The video will be airing on the local cable access channel AMP.
Sampson would like Lola to further diversify her good work in the future.
“I want her to continue to work with AFRP, bringing awareness to unsheltered animals,” says Sampson. “I’m also looking into having her trained as a companion dog, because she is so personable.”
Apparently the ambition won’t heel there, either. Sampson says she can guarantee that Lola’s puppies will skateboard, too. Looking out thoughtfully over Lake El Estero, she has yet another idea in mind.
“I’ve also considered teaching her to water ski,” sampson says.