Bruno was stoic Sunday as he paddled through the surf, clambered on his surfboard and tried to catch the perfect wave.
The English Bulldog found a wave and smoothly rode it until he bumped into another pooch stalled on his surfboard. The crash took a chunk out of Bruno’s board, but that didn’t matter – Bruno’s humans were proud of him.
Bruno was one of about 80 pooches who tried their paws at competing at the fourth annual Surf Dog Surf-A-Thon that benefits the Helen Woodward Animal Center in the San Diego area. About 5,000 humans and hundreds of furry friends at the Del Mar “Dog Beach” rooted for the pooches hanging 20.
Proceeds from the event will help HWAC general operations, which include dog and cat adoptions, therapy animal programs and educational programs. Among many proud sponsors at the event was i Love Dogs.
Dogs of all types bounded into the water as humans “oohed” and cheered them. Kia Pet, a diminutive Jack Russell Terrier, conquered the waves on her pink surfboard. Hulking Bernese Mountain Dogs stood proud on their long boards. Some canines coasted to shore tail first or sat on their boards. Others preferred to ride with their humans.
Pooches such as Bruno were competing for the first time after attending a surf clinic this summer. Bruno’s humans, Dave and Vicky Legat, thought their pooch had an affinity for surfing when he climbed aboard a surfboard floating in the their swimming pool. “He was great on balance and I thought he would be good at it,” Dave Legat said.
One of the veterans was Buddy, a Jack Russell Terrier who has been surfing with his human Bruce Hooker for nine years. Buddy perched on the front of Hooker’s long board for one heat but was solo for the other heats.
“HWAC is a great charity,” Hooker said. “It’s great working with them. I enjoy helping build the brand and event.”
Hooker said participants had to contend with 3- to 4-foot waves, and the current made it a little harder to get out as far as possible to get the longest ride.
But Buddy and Hooker prevailed. The Terrier glided the longest distance to shore. He barked at his humans as they pulled him back out to the waves.
Four-legged participants were judged on factors such as riding solo, length or ride, size of wave ridden, attitude and style. Heats were organized by dog size, with winners from each heat competing in the finals. Buddy was number one in “Best in Surf,” with Golden Retriever Ricochet coming in second. Dozer, an English Bulldog, placed third.
The Surf-A-Thon may go international next year with doggy surfing champions from Australia, New Zealand and other countries joining the sea dogs in Del Mar, according to John Van Zante, HWAC spokesman.
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Image from North County Times