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Petey was last year's top dog in the Surf Dog Surf-a-Thon. Photo courtesy of the Helen Woodward Animal Center.
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Canines return to catch waves at annual Surf Dog Surf-a-Thon

DEL MAR — The country’s longest-running canine surf competition returns for its 18th year at the Del Mar Dog Beach on Sept. 10 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The Helen Woodward Animal Center’s 18th annual Surf Dog Surf-a-Thon, presented by Blue Buffalo, is the first-of-its-kind, turning “dogs on surfboards” into a platform to raise life-saving funds with 100% of the proceeds supporting shelter orphan pets and programs.

Hoping to join a coveted list of “Top Surf Dogs,” more than 70 surfing dogs will compete in 10-minute heats. Participating dogs will show off their skills before a panel of judges consisting of professional surfers who will judge based on the length of a competitor’s ride, wave technique, enthusiasm and confidence on the board.

One of 2022’s competitors in the annual Surf Dog Surf-a-Thon at Del Mar Dog Beach. Photo courtesy of the Helen Woodward Animal Center.

First, second and third place winners will be awarded for each weight class and the first-place winners will move on to the finals. An additional freestyle surf contest will award points for creativity. Tandem rides, eye-catching tricks and costumes are encouraged to impress the judges.

“There’s a reason this is one of our most popular events,” said Eva Lagudi-Devereux, special events manager for the Woodward Center. “The absolute heart in this day is unmatched. The love these pet parents have for their dogs, and the joy these dogs have doing something they adore with their owners, reminds us all that pets do really change our lives for the better.”

The event will host other family-friendly activities, including live beach tunes with the Salton City Surf Club Band, the rock star and music legend-themed canine costume contest, a kid’s activity area with crafts and games, the “BARKet Place,” featuring a variety of exhibitor booths with pet products and local businesses, a free agility course for dogs sponsored by San Diego Pet Training, an honorarium to recognize surf dog legend and fundraiser, Ricochet, and the competition’s the award ceremony.

A pet owner and his canine companion tandem surf in last year’s Surf Dog Surf-a-Thon. Photo courtesy of the Helen Woodward Animal Center.

The Surf Dog Surf-A-Thon will be livestreamed on Facebook at

Registration is still available for canines to enter the surf and freestyle contests. Top competitors will win prizes like a one-night stay at the Kona Kai Resort with breakfast for two.

The Surf Dog Surf-a-Thon is free to attend. Parking will be available at the corners of Border Avenue/Via De La Valle and Coast Highway/Camino Del Mar for a $20 donation.

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