For a breed generally known to avoid the water, Bugsy the pug does quite well in the surf, thank you.
Proof of that can be found on the cover of the August issue of Reader’s Digest, on newsstands now.
With proud owner Dr. David Yew in the background, Bugsy is pictured confidently riding the nose, complete with goggles and aloha-print surf vest. The photo illustrates the magazine’s cover story on "amazing pets," which aptly describes Bugsy’s relationship with Yew.
The medical director for Hawaii Life Flight first took Bugsy out on a rental surfboard in 2003 and found, to his surprise, the pooch could swim.
Since then Yew has taken Bugsy sky-diving (with a video of the jump garnering more than 750,000 hits on YouTube), and his dog’s notoriety swelled even more when he appeared two years ago and in reruns on Animal Planet’s "Dogs 101" series.
"We took him out surfing in the morning and sky-diving later in the day," Yew said of the filming for the TV show. "Bugsy stuck his head out of my jumpsuit like he was putting his head out of a moving car. This dog is my best friend, and I’ve shared the best experiences in my life with him."
The pug was a rescue animal Yew adopted in 2001 while doing his medical residency at a New York City hospital.
"He almost died as a puppy from pneumonia. When I took him from the shelter, I built a little intensive-care unit for him, where he took his medication for two weeks. Myself and two other residents looked after him," he said.
When he’s not making headlines or starring in TV shows, the now-healthy 9-year-old canine is a therapy dog for patients at Tripler Army Medical Center and Kapiolani Medical Center for Women & Children.
But the dog needs his camera time, and Yew said his four-legged friend even modeled for the Coach 2002 winter catalog. The doctor also credits Bugsy with an assist in his owner’s love life.
"My wife’s from Korea, and she grew up afraid of dogs. Years later, after we married, she told me the dog was the glue that sealed the deal with her parents’ approval. But there’s one stipulation: no more sky diving," Yew said.
"My wife, who’s a dentist, is 36 weeks pregnant, and Bugsy knows that. He’s very attentive to her and sits by her, listening to the heartbeat."
Yew himself has been before the cameras, getting a brief speaking role in "Lost" last season.
For now, Bugsy is grabbing the spotlight and competing with five other pets for reader votes in Reader’s Digest.
To cast your vote, visit www.rd.com and click on "Vote for the Most Amazing Pet" in the Editors’ Picks column.