Surfin' USA goes to the dogs as canine surf season opens

Fri May 21, 2010 11:21am EDT
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By Sarah Tippit

SAN DIEGO (Reuters) - Surf's up -- and Buddy, a Jack Russell terrier, is stoked.

The wiry canine, who weighs about 15 pounds, has been surfing for 10 of his 12 years alongside owner Bruce Hooker, 53, from Ventura, California, usually hitting the waves three times a week and walking up to six miles daily to stay fit for the ocean.

This Saturday he will be competing with about 60 other dogs in the fifth annual Loews Coronado Bay Resort Surf Dog competition in Imperial Beach which marks the start of the dog surfing season.

"He's really passionate about it. He sees this as a game and he wants to play. I'm sure he's ridden more waves than any other dogs," said Hooker, a salesman and lifelong surfer who serves as Buddy's coach and spotter.

"My job is to get him into the critical part of the wave," said Hooker, proud that Buddy came first in his "heat," or weight class, in last year's contest.

The popular San Diego area contest, like many of the growing number of dog surfing events being held in southern California each year, is a fundraiser for pet-related charities, said Loews General Manager Kathleen Cochran.

This year proceeds will be donated to the San Diego Police Canine unit. The rules of the contest? Every canine has 10 minutes to catch his or her best wave and will be judged on confidence level, length of ride and overall ability to "grip it and rip it," Cochran said.

"I personally look for attire, whether they come dressed seriously with board shorts on, what's going on with their tails, whether they're wagging them or sitting on them," said Cochran.   Continued...