What is dog surfing? It's a sporting event we can really get behind, is what it is.
In early September, about 80 canine beach bums will take to the waves, for the annual Surf Dog Surf-A-Thon dog surfing competition. They'll do it on their paws, for a good cause: the contest is a fundraiser for the Helen Woodward Animal Center, a rescue group that adopts out homeless animals and brings therapy pets into hospitals and retirement homes, in addition to encouraging dogs to partake in water sports.
"Dogs are probably better surfers than humans. They have better balance and have an easier time getting out an surfing than most people do. In fact, most surfers even say their dogs are better surfers. Dogs kind of have it, paws down," says Jessica Gercke, a spokesperson for the group. "Many of them have been doing it for years."
This is Dozer, a handsome English bulldog who is last year's HWAC Surf Dog Surf-A-Thon winner. Dozer enjoys snacking, snoring and "chasing beach babes" when he isn't riding the waves, according to his So Cal Surf Dogs page.
Seriously, guys, this is something that people -- and animals -- do, out in Southern California, where the competition's past winners have, of course, ended up in commercials and movies ("Marmaduke" employed a number of them).
Some do even more, like Ricochet, the dog in this video -- and the cutie at the top of this story -- who is not only a champion surfer and YouTube star, but also a therapy dog who surfs with kids who might be too scared to do it on their own:
And also, sometimes, with a goat (oh, baah-guiling California!):
These surfing animals -- a number of whom were adopted from HWAC, while others came to this activity independently -- "are popular, hot dogs in the surfing world," Gercke says, though she cautions that even in California, the land of dreams and opportunity, some things are, or should be, off limits to pups.
"There is a guy who started skydiving with his dog. But we don’t support it because you can’t read their minds. The instinct of the dogs, you can imagine, they don’t want to be dropping that fast," she says. "Dogs can do just about anything that they enjoy doing. But it’s best to be realistic with what they’re enjoying."
Same, presumably, goes for the goats.
Register here for dog surfing workshops and the 2014 Helen Woodward Animal Center Surf Dog Surf-A-Thon Dog Surfing Competition, to be held on September 7 at Del Mar Dog Beach -- and get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org if you know someone doing great things for animals, or unusual animals doing great things on surf boards!