Dogs surprise wave at annual surfing competition in Del Mar


Chihuahua teacup Bing Bang has been learning to surf since the age of four months.

Four years ago, Ocean Beach resident Naomi Masiello bought a $ 20 kiddie pool at Walmart, filled it with water, and placed Bing Bang on a boogie board in the middle to teach him how to balance. He has been surfing ever since.

On Sunday, he was one of 40 dogs that entered the Surf-a-Thon Surf Dog Contest at Del Mar Beach. She said he did well and only fell off the board three times in his 10 minutes of competition.

“It’s the best way to enjoy the beach with the dog,” said Masiello.

The Helen Woodward Animal Center, an animal rescue without killing in Rancho Santa Fe, has been hosting the Surf-a-Thon fundraiser for 16 years. This year, the event raised approximately $ 14,000 for the animal shelter.

Over 300 people gathered on Del Mar Beach around the event on a sunny day without a cloud in the sky, a cool breeze tempering the heat and the glassy ocean water glistening in the sun.

The judges scored the dogs on a number of criteria, including length of their ride, size of the wave, whether they stood on all fours, whether they were riding a clean, unbroken wave, confidence – and their smile.

Here’s how surfing worked: Each dog had a small team of people to guide their surfing. A team member swam or waded and pushed the surfboard, with the dog standing on top, in a wave. Another member of the team retrieved the dog after the dog completed the wave or fell into the water.

In one part of the competition, people rode on surfboards with their dogs.

Some dogs just stood on the plank, bracing themselves. Some have surfed backwards, and others have pulled off tricks.

The crowd cheered when Bamboo, a 7-year-old “Double Doodle” – a mix between a Goldendoodle and a Labradoodle – his surfer, riding the same board, simultaneously grabbed frisbees thrown by another member of the team while they were riding a wave.

Pam Lucado, an Orange County resident who has been training dogs for surfing competitions since 2008, said the tour has been in the works for three years and that she and her team have been practicing it with Bamboo for at least a year.

Lucado said dog surfing is a great sport because dogs have as much fun as their owners.

She said she advocates for others to do more activities with their dogs, rather than having a dog confined to the backyard.

“You will be surprised at what they will volunteer to do,” Lucado said.

Dan Nykolayko came down from Newport Beach with his French Bulldog, Cherie, to enter the contest.

The water was a bit choppy and the waves lacked power, he said, but he’s glad Cherie had two long waves again.

He said a key to dog surfing is wave selection, choosing the right wave that will be long and smooth.

He said Cherie has been surfing for eight years. She started with surf lessons at the Helen Woodward Center.

“It brought Cherie and me closer together,” he said. “It’s a bit of a bonding experience.”

In the end, one of the dogs in the “extra-small” category – Petey, a West Highland white terrier – was crowned the winner. This year was his first time at Surf-a-Thon, but he’s been surfing since he was eight months old, according to event officials.


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