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Surf’s Up: Pups Catch Waves at World Dog Surfing Championships – DogTime

By Jenna Wadsworth
This past weekend, dogs and their humans popped up on surfboards to ride the waves at the World Dog Surfing Championships in the San Francisco Bay area. The event, held at Linda Mar Beach in Pacifica, drew a crowd of hundreds of onlookers. In addition to the sporting aspect, there was also a charity component and the chance for attendees to take home adoptable pups. There was even a dog fashion show, vet checkups, a frisbee competition, and a friendly round of fetch along the shoreline.
This year’s competition was stiff but competitors looked to have a doggone good time as they competed in various heats of the tournament. Several pooches were returning champions, hoping to once again secure titles in their category of choice.
Cherie, a French Bulldog, was one such pup. In an interview with CNN, her dog parent Dan Nykolayko said of her technique that she “just likes to kinda hunker down on the board.” Calling her “a big boulder,” Nykolayko illustrated how his pup achieves success, describing how Cherie “gets down in the back, butt goes up, chest goes down.” He added that “as long as it’s a smooth ride, she is smooth sailing all the way in.”
Earlier this summer, the Frenchie retained her title as small dog champion in the Huntington Beach Surfing Competition. In fact, the pooch is known as a “surfing queen” because of all the honors she has racked up over her illustrious career.
A post shared by World Dog Surfing (@worlddogsurfing)
Surfer Magazine reported on the pups who dared attempt a cutback, drop-in, or nose ride. The publication — known for being an authority on all things surfing — even shared the competition’s results:
Dr. Treat Small Dog Category
Buddy’s Batch Medium Dog Category
Playful Pooch Large Dog Category
Bold by Nature Extra Large Dog Category
Rockaway Ricky Dog / Dog Tandem Category
White Claw Human / Dog Tandem Category
Diggidy Dog Top Dog Final Overall Champs
The World Dog Surfing Championships judges entrants on several components, including the “length of ride, the size of the wave, [and] certainty on the board.” Judges also examine a dog’s surfing technique, looking to see if the pup can hang 20 — or stand on all fours — while riding the wave. However, a pooch can still collect points for sitting or laying down on their board. Official rules even note that extra points are awarded for tricks, which some pups do manage to pull off while catching a gnarly ride.
Dogs are also rated in size-specific categories of small, medium, large, and extra large. Additionally, there is a tandem dogs surfing round and a tandem dog / human competition. Top dogs take home a “Golden Surfie” and bragging rights.
All dogs who enter the competition are required to wear a life vest. Moreover, their human companions who paddle out to sea with the pups are also expected to don life jackets. Organizers prioritize dog — and human — safety to ensure all contestants have an enjoyable experience.
Furthermore, all pups are expected to remain on leash when living out their best beach bum lives. Once they hit the water, however, only humans should be leashed to surfboards. Event organizers warn that attaching a dog to their board can be very dangerous, especially in the event of a wipeout.
The World Dog Surfing Championships is an annual event occurring on the California coast. This modern version of the tournament began in 2016. However, according to the organization’s website, the first dog surfing competition took place long before that in San Diego.
In 2006, the Loews Coronado Hotel played host to the inaugural competition of surf dogs. The idea for the tournament was conceived by Kevin Reed, the author of “The Dog’s Guide to Surfing: Hanging Ten with Man’s Best Friend.”
Surfing can be a great activity to share with your dog. Some breeds — such as Labrador Retrievers, German Shorthaired Pointers, and Golden Retrievers — are more suited to water sports. By the same token, so are most pups who have “water” in their name. Portuguese Water Dogs, Spanish Water Dogs, as well as both Irish and American Water Spaniels, would all make excellent surf buds. Be that as it may, your pup may still excel at the sport even if their breed isn’t on the list of the best dog breeds for surfing.
Athletic dogs who are strong swimmers and reliably respond to recall commands are excellent candidates for the sport. Once out in the ocean, there are a number of dangers a pup could face — from rip currents to sharks to other humans. Accordingly, canines need to be well-bonded to their human, because things can transpire and go wrong quickly in the deep blue sea.
As with most things, proper training and resiliency are key in ensuring your dog’s career as a wave-riding pup. You’ll never know if your rescue pooch is destined to crush a future World Dog Surfing Championships until you put fido’s life vest on and get him in the water. So, surf’s up, dawgs!
Jenna is the Managing Editor of DogTime.com and CatTime.com, as well as the proud helicopter dog mom of her rescue pups Washington and Goldie Hawn. She grew up in rural North Carolina on a family farm, which is where her love of animals became apparent as she quite literally endeavored to save every abandoned fur baby within the farm’s proximity. Jenna has worked as a book editor, ghostwriter, and speech writer for various political personalities across the country. She is passionate about animal rights, sustainable agriculture, equality, and climate change—even appearing on PBS NewsHour, as well as in NBC News, The Nation, The Advocate, Yahoo News, and Newsweek.
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