Dana McGregor sat at a San Luis Obispo deli Friday afternoon, legs propped up on a green plastic chair and eating a sandwich, as he chuckled at passersby admiring his four goats across the street.
The 34-year-old Pismo Beach resident runs SurfingGoats.com, an effort he put together in the last two years to encourage children to surf and do stand-up paddle boarding with the help of his goats. His wave-riding goats have been featured in several news stories and on NBC’s “Today” show.
On Friday, the quirky entourage was coming back from helping with a youth soccer camp at Cal Poly — where the goats played and interacted with the kids — when McGregor decided to get some lunch.
He parked his sedan — topped with a blue surfboard — in an empty lot off Higuera Street and tied up his four-legged friends so they could munch on some dry grass.
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The sight was an odd one during the typical end-of-week hustle and bustle outside of downtown.
Over the course of just 30 minutes, people stopped and snapped cell phone pictures of the goats, pointed at them and seemed perplexed. One man walked up to the goats for a quick pat on the head before continuing on his way. When two of the goats climbed up on the hood of McGregor’s little car and sat down to catch some rays, several customers in the deli laughed and looked outside.
“It just makes people’s day seeing them,” McGregor said. “That’s kinda why I do it. It just brings people joy.”
McGregor normally runs youth soccer camps through FLO Soccer Ministries, but three years ago he got a goat to clear out poison oak in his mom’s yard. He and the goat, whom he named Goatee, became fast friends, and he started bringing her everywhere he went — even surfing. On two occasions, when McGregor's soccer ministry took him abroad, Goatee stayed with ranch friends and became pregnant. Over the next two years, Pismo, Grover and Shell were born. Now they all travel around together in his little white Mazda.
“I see people taking pictures or videos on the freeway,” he said. “It’s pretty hilarious.”
Now that he’s run several regional surfing and soccer clinics, he hopes to make the goats certified service animals so they can help children with disabilities. He spoke about a surfing trip he did in Pismo Beach a month ago with a young boy who had hearing disabilities who relished getting on a paddleboard after watching one of the goats do it.
“They’re really a lot of fun,” he said. “The kids love them.”