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Cowabunga! Dogs Hang Ten at San Diego Surfing Contest

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On a pristine San Diego beach on Saturday, spectators watched breathlessly as Buddy, an experienced surfer, caught the wave that would win him the championship title. As he rode the swell, he made it very clear other surfers needed to keep their distance: He barked–loudly–the entire time.

Buddy, of course, is a dog. The Jack Russell terrier–along with his owner, Bruce Hooker–was hanging ten at the 4th Annual Loews Coronado Bay Resort Surf Dog Competition, a fund-raiser to benefit the Modest Needs Foundation, which aims to prevent poverty before it begins.

“Buddy went out in the water further than any dog we’ve ever had,” says Anne Stephany, the California Director of Public Relations for Loews. “His owner was swimming out with the board, and his dog surfed wave after wave like a total pro. The whole time he’s barking ‘Get out of my way, don’t you dare distract me!’ The crowd was going crazy.”

The crowd was composed of thousands of dog lovers hailing from as far away as Oregon, Arizona, Minnesota and Hawaii. And, says Stephany, it was hard to tell who was having more fun. “I think it’s important to say these dogs are having a blast,” she says. “While they’re surfing their tail is wagging. It melts your heart. That’s the number one thing–they can’t wait to get out into the water.”

For those who find it hard to imagine their pooch surfing, Stephany points out that it’s not too much of a stretch. “Surfing’s all about balance,” she says. “The fact that dogs have four legs instead of two makes them good competitors.”

Buddy wasn’t the only pooch to take home a prize. He claimed the 40 lbs.-and-under division, while golden retriever Kalani took the 41 lbs.-and-over division. And Zoey, a Jack Russell terrier, and his owners Scott and Tyler Chandler took the team surfing category.

Each dog/team had three waves (or chances) to impress the judges and was scored on confidence level, length of ride and overall ability to “grip it and rip it.”

Here are the full competition results:

Category One: Small surf dogs 40 lbs. and under
1st Place: Buddy, a Jack Russell terrier owned by Bruce Hooker
2nd Place: Abbie Girl, an Australian Kelpie owned by Michael Uy
3rd Place: Kia, a Jack Russell terrier owned by Rene Bruce

Category Two: Large surf dogs 41 lbs. and over
1st Place: Kalani, a golden retriever owned by Andra Lew
2nd Place: Stanley, a Chesapeake Bay retriever owned by Craig Haverstick
3rd Place: Louie, a Labrador owned by Karl Eberhardt

Category Three: Teams (surf dogs and humans surfing together)
1st Place: Zoey, a Jack Russell terrier, and his owners Scott and Tyler Chandler
2nd Place: Booda, a mix, and owner Sydney Lovelace
3rd Place: Dude, a bassett-beagle mix, and owner Barb Ayers