It was a momentous occasion the weekend of September 19th in Surf City when dog lovers and surfing enthusiasts gathered to watch dogs of all shapes and sizes riding the waves. The annual McKenna Subaru Surf City Surf Dog® event was held at Huntington Dog Beach, generously sponsored by McKenna Subaru. With hundreds of onlookers, participants, and furry companions, this event brought the city together to witness the fearless surf dogs compete for the grand title of first place. In addition to the surfing competition, Surf Dog featured a marketplace of vendors, offering great food, pet supplies, adoption opportunities, and more.
Huntington Dog Beach was at the top of FIDO Friendly® magazine’s 2018 list of the best beaches in America for dogs and their people. It was also a Critic’s Choice pick in the Orange County Register, making it a most fitting location for this event. (For more information about Huntington Dog Beach read Pet Companion Magazine‘s article.) The dog beach was both on-leash and off-leash friendly during the weekend event, with pet owners choosing what they felt was safest for their pups. There were plenty of doggy bags available for those that didn’t have one on hand, and visitors did their part to keep the beach as clean as possible throughout the event.
Festivities began bright and early at 8 a.m. on Saturday, allowing early birds to wander the vendor marketplace and stake out a good viewing position for the surfing extravaganza. For those who wanted to avoid the parking fees at the beach, free parking was offered at the Civic Center about a mile away, with a complimentary pet-friendly shuttle. A short walk down to the sand landed you right at the vendor marketplace, with a slew of pet toys, biodegradable doggy bags, and adoption flyers hanging at every corner.
Many vendors this year were focused on pet health, biodegradability, and adoption efforts. A few, including Hello Fresh, were not pet-oriented at all, but were donating part of their proceeds from the event to various pet organizations, including Barks of Love, French Bulldog Rescue Network, Huntington Dog Beach, OC SPCA, Southern California Golden Retriever Rescue, and Westie Rescue of Orange County & Beyond. Wandering among the vendor booths were various canine patrons, some dressed up in their finest sport hats and shades and others rocking snazzy collars and fun custom harnesses! All the pups in attendance were very well mannered and seemed to enjoy the attention.
Then there was the main attraction … the surfing competition! A stretch of beach was blocked off for photographers and Surf Dog competitors, but once the canines and their handlers hit the water, it was all fair game. Onlookers gathered in massive crowds along the shore to watch the festivities unfold. Local news cameras, countless GoPro cameras, and a master of ceremonies kept the audience informed of all the happenings. Many of the dogs competing traveled from far and wide to show off their wave-riding skills, and the crowd appreciated their efforts, cheering them on and heaping lots of love on contestants.
The competition unfolded in various “heats” or groupings of dogs. The morning started off with small dog heats and, as the day went on, worked toward the large dogs. Dogs were judged on the size of the wave they rode, how long they stayed on the board, and how quickly they made it to shore. For the first set of events, owners or handlers placed the dog on the board and then pulled them out to sea, waiting for a wave to come before letting the dog go to surf back to shore. A large group of lifeguards and help were present at all times to ensure dog safety!
The weather was a bit tumultuous that day, and the waves strong, but all the pups did fabulous despite the conditions. You could really see the excitement and enjoyment in the eyes of each dog, with several of them showing off a perfect surfboard stance! Many of the onlookers had never seen such a thing before, and the joy on their faces was delightful to see.
After the competition, pet owners interested in getting their pups to participate in this fun sport were treated to a surfing expo. Past and reigning champions and dog trainers demonstrated their skills, showing how to get your dog started in surfing. There were many educational resources for pet owners available.
Here are the winners of the various events.
Handler – Launched Division
1st Place – Giselle (Rhodesian Ridgeback Mix)
2nd Place – Brody (Labradoodle)
3rd Place – Joey (Westie)
1st Place – Prince Dudeman (Bichon Frise/Japanese Chin)
2nd Place – Cherie the Surf Dog (French Bulldog)
3rd Place – Surf Gidget the Pug (Pug)
Only Natural Pet Tandem
Dog and Dog
1st Place – Sugar (mix), Titi and Kiwi (Chihuahuas)
2nd Place –Bono (chocolate Labrador) and Maya (Australian Cattle Dog)
3rd Place – Giselle and Rusty (Min Pin)
Dog and Human on SUP (Stand Up Paddle Board)
1st Place – Maya and Gilson de Moraes
2nd Place – Bono and Ivan Moreira
3rd Place – Parafina and Augusto Serrachioli
Dog and Human
1st Place – Skyler (Red Heeler)