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Thursday, September 29, 2011

5th Annual Dog Surfing Competition (Slideshow)


All aboard

Five competitors pile on a surfboard during Sunday's Surf Dog Surf-A-Thon in Del Mar, Calif. The event welcomed 4,000 spectators, 80 pooches, and raised more than $100,000 for orphaned animals. Canine surf competitions have recently grown in popularity, and a number are held in Southern California each year. Click through for a look at more pups hanging ten.
PHOTO: REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

The perfect pitch

Since dogs like this California competitor don't have the ability to paddle into the oncoming wave like human surfers can, dog surfers need to be "pitched." That's when the dog's human helper pushes the board — with the dog sitting or standing on top — so it's moving at the same speed as the wave. The human then lets go and the dog is set free to ride its wave.
PHOTO: REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson


A pug is thrown off its board on Sunday. Depending on the timing of the pitch or the size of the wave, dogs may wipe out just like human surfers — which is why all dogs wear life jackets and are assisted by human lifeguards.
PHOTO: REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

The old pro

Buddy, a 14-year-old Jack Russell Terrier, took home the honor of "top dog" Sunday, his fifth win in the competition's six years. Buddy is also the first member of the Surf Dog Hall of Fame. While Buddy is likely to retire after this competition, his owner said there was no doubt those last waves were "probably the best of Buddy's life."
PHOTO: Facebook/Helen Woodward Animal Center


A surfing bulldog tumbles off its board during Sunday's competition. The 80 dogs competing were divided among four weight classes.
PHOTO: REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

One with the wave

One of Sunday's competitors sits behind a spray of water during his ride. A dog's low center of gravity and relatively low weight often give him stability in rough waves. 
PHOTO: REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Helping hand

A labrador participates in a different Southern California surf competition last year. Humans are an important part of dog surfing. Getting the board out past the break point can be the most difficult part, because handlers have to keep the dog on the board through an onslaught of crashing waves.
PHOTO: CC BY: Port of San Diego

Big air

A small dog competing in the 2008 Surf Dog Surf-A-Thon wipes out while riding a wave. While humans attach themselves to their boards with a leash to the ankle, dogs are attached by their life vests. Surfboard companies now make softboards for dogs, which are preferable to fiberglass or wood because they prevent injury during canine wipeouts. 

Shake it, baby

A dog shakes off some sea water during the 2008 Surf Dog Surf-A-Thon. Not all dogs are natural swimmers, and some have to practice holding their breath. While beginners can't exactly tell their owners they don't want to surf, canines do have other ways of expressing their disinterest in the sport.

The best reward

Australian Kelpie Abbie G gives her owner a little lick during a calm moment on the water. Abbie G is a longtime surfer who this year became the first Guinness World Record holder for the longest surf ride by a dog. The record-setting distance of 65 yards was measured using a GPS system duct-taped to the top of her wetsuit.


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