Dogs take to the waves at Del Mar’s Surf Dog Surf-A-Thon

DEL MAR — Dog surfers from across San Diego County and beyond hit the waves at Del Mar Dog Beach on Sunday during the annual Surf Dog Surf-A-Thon to benefit the Helen Woodward Animal Center.

The 17th annual event drew hundreds of participants and their dogs to the beach to watch approximately 70 canine competitors, with the help of their owners, compete in various rounds of surfing based on their weight class – from the smallest to the biggest.

Competing in 10-minute heats, the dogs were judged on their ability to ride their waves and stay on the board, as well as their “fun factor”. This could include riding the board with their owner or other dogs, wearing a flashy costume, or doing tricks.

Jack Rouss, owner of Labrador retriever Gus, says surfing is something his canine companion really enjoys on his own. “I wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t for him,” Rouss said of the Surf-A-Thon. “He loves to surf. He practiced and over time I got bigger boards so he could hold the board better.

Many attendees have traveled hours for this renowned event. Connie and Don Horn descended from Stinson Beach in Marin County to compete in this year’s competition with their cocker spaniels Samson, 15, and Delilah, 13, who showed the judges a tandem ride on their surfboard .

Connie Horn said she enjoyed the camaraderie at the event, which they had attended for eight years.

“We love the event, because everyone who comes, they love their dogs and love being with their dogs and surfing them. It’s a lot of commitment to help dogs surf and compete, and everyone s ‘help each other,’ she said. ‘I’m not a surfer, but our dogs are, and I’ll tell you, we’ll go out and let them go and Samson, he loves the waves.’

In addition to being a memorable event in itself, the Surf Dog Surf-A-Thon also raises funds for the Helen Woodward Animal Center, a private non-profit animal shelter in Rancho Santa Fe. funds for the event, available on the Helen Woodward Animal Center website.

As of Sunday night, the Horns’ ‘Team Samson and Delilah’ fundraiser raised the most money with just under $4,000 raised.

Dogs and owners participate in the 17th Annual Surf Dog Surf-A-Thon at Del Mar Dog Beach on Sunday.  The event benefits the Helen Woodward Animal Center.  Photo courtesy of Erik Good

Dogs and owners participate in the 17th Annual Surf Dog Surf-A-Thon at Del Mar Dog Beach on Sunday.  The event benefits the Helen Woodward Animal Center.  Photo courtesy of Erik Good
Photos by Erik Bon

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