A crowd of beachgoers ran over to Central Coast local Dana McGregor’s car as soon as they saw the White Prius.
Phones came out immediately for photos and videos of him and his three goats, Pismo, Goatee and Grover. Children shouted, ‘It’s the goats!’ and rushed over to pet them. Local surfers greeted him with a “yew” and a shaka.
McGregor has become somewhat of a local fixture, known for soccer camps, surf lessons and a children’s book. But he is most famous for his three pet goats that find, catch and conquer waves with him.
Two of McGregor’s friends helped him carry a surfboard the size of a small car down the steps to Pismo State Beach.
After a game of goat soccer on the sand to warm up, McGregor charged into an oncoming wave on the surfboard. He stood up to paddle behind a four-hooved lump of matted white fur — his 200-pound best friend, Pismo. The other goats stayed on the sand, approaching beachgoers and searching for food.
Back in the ocean, three men and one goat rode a wave together toward shore.
Pismo hopped off the board and onto the sand with ease. All three goats were rewarded with pretzels, pats and kisses.
McGregor surprised a new friend, Michael Willis, with a trick he calls “goating” — squirting goat milk at people, sometimes in their mouths.
Willis said he was recently brought into the friend group and it already feels like family.
“I’m picking up [goat language] as I go,” Willis said. “I can understand it a lot more than I can speak it. It’s kind of weird how that works.”
“I can bring joy to people with something as silly as a goat, you know. That’s my purpose, I just know it is.”
In 2011, McGregor got his first goat, Goatee. His intentions were simple: have her clean out the poison oak in his mom’s Pismo Beach backyard. Once the job was finished, he would eat her.
That plan changed when he became attached to the Saanen goat.
“Every time I’d leave to go somewhere, Goatee would cry. She’d be like, ‘mehhh mehhh mehhh,’” McGregor said. “So, I had to start taking her everywhere, Trader Joes, you know, all around.”
This was the beginning of what McGregor refers to as a “God’s story” – the moment when food turned into a friend.
McGregor never planned to have more than one pet goat, but he said whenever he left town and left Goatee at a goat farm, she would return pregnant.
“Now [Pismo] is my best friend,” McGregor said.
McGregor first took his goat surfing on his birthday in in 2011. Goats have great balance, according to McGregor, so she was able to stay atop the board the entire time.
These days, Goatee and Grover remain onshore, while Pismo, who was taught to swim from the time he was just a kid, takes to the waves.
McGregor said goats have great balance, so they are able to stand on the board to ride waves. Serena Lopez | Mustang News
When McGregor first started taking his goats to the beach, he racked up thousands of dollars in fines from the city due to their animal leashing regulations.
“I would go to the court and they were like ‘Oh you here for the goats again?’ And me and the judge knew each other,” McGregor said.
Eventually, McGregor was able to get the goats approved in Pismo Beach by attending city council meetings.
“The community has kind of adopted [the goats]. They’re well loved,” McGregor said as he looked over at Grover laying on a woman’s beach towel with her. “I think people know them as the surfing goats.”
Pismo Beach teacher Robin Reed invites McGregor and his goats to visit her school to interact with the kids every so often.
“He teaches the kids bravery by letting the kids squirt the goat milk directly into their mouth,” Reed said. “He just brings animals to a different level for the kids. He’s so engaging. He’s a child himself.”
Reed said she hopes the students learn that goats are not just “animals you see behind a cage at Avila Barn,” more about the animals and how they interact.
“It opens up different realms for the kids,” Reed said.
McGregor shares a post-surf snack with his pet goat. Serena Lopez | Mustang News
The goats are not only famous locally. They have been featured on the Today Show, National Geographic and newspapers in Indonesia and Australia.
In 2015, McGregor wrote a children’s book, “The Surfing Goats Featuring Pismo the Kid,” with colorful illustrations by Ish Abdullah. McGregor said he plans to write a follow-up book about Pismo’s dream wave.
“I can bring joy to people with something as silly as a goat, you know. That’s my purpose, I just know it is,” McGregor said.