Some dogs fetch. Some play dead. And some surf. There's even a contest for these wave-riding pups, where they can strive to be top-dog in one of three categories: large-dog, small-dog, or tandem. This year fifty canine contestants put their best paw forward at the fourth annual Loews Coronado Bay Resort surf-dog competition.
Held at Imperial Beach on June 20th, the event drew more than 1,000 curious spectators. "Just looking around, you see people smiling. They're in disbelief. They're cracking up," said Anne Stephany, Director of Public Relations for Loews in San Diego.
The event is judged based on three criteria: confidence level (as demonstrated by barking, tail wagging, or general display of self-assurance), the length of the ride, and the overall ability to "rip it and grip it." This final category awards points for special tricks or costuming, such as wearing sunglasses or board shorts. Some dogs step up the competition by surfing backwards or walking the nose. And you thought your pooch was smart.
Scott Chandler is known for big-wave surfing... and for his dog's surfing. Chandler and Zoey, his Jack Russell terrier, have been winners every time. One year they demonstrated stand-up paddle surfing, and last year Chandler surfed with his daughter on his shoulders and Zoey on the nose. This time, they changed things up again.
He brought his girlfriend's daughter as well, so he had one girl on his shoulders, one girl standing, and one dog on the front. "I was told there was going to be good competition this year so I was like, 'we really got to be on our game,'" said Chandler. "It's such a bonding thing with your animal--it's such a high level of trust. You communicate in your own way,"
After the acrobatic act, it's no surprise the Chandler gang took first place in the tandem competition. Winning the small dog event was Buddy, also a Jack Russell terrier, who waded further out than any other pet and barked on the ride back in. Kalani, a golden retriever, took the prize in the large-dog competition.
The charity event has grown from an intimate local competition to a contest drawing participants from around the country. "It was a way for me to share the sport of surfing with people that never go to the beach.... And it's great to be able to do that," said Chandler.