During one of the last dog days of summer nearly 4,000 spectators turned out yesterday to watch San Diego's pets hit the beach for 'the world's largest dog surfing event'.
The dogs were taking part in the 4th annual Surf Dog Surf-a-Thon in order to raise money for a local animal shelter. The surfers rode waves at North Beach, also known as Dog Beach, in California.
The event, hosted by and benefiting the Helen Woodward Animal Centre in Rancho Santa Fe, has so far raised more than £17,500.
Surfing U.S.A.: Kai the eight-year old Jack Russell terrier rides a wave
Wipe out: A six-year old Pomeranian named Bobby Gorgeous jumps off the surfboard
'It just doesn't get any greater than San Diego showing its love for dogs and its love for surfing,' said animal centre President Michael Arms.
'What could be more fun than playing with your dog in the water?'
Mr Arms estimated that the crowd at the 'world's largest dog surfing event' was nearly 4,000 - double the number from last year.
The action was centred on the two to three foot waves that rolled in carrying pint-sized pooches, hefty hounds and everything in between.
Dozer, a 75-pound, 3-year-old bulldog, took first place in the second heat of the extra-large category. He has been surfing for only a year.
His owner, Gigi Bagaporo of Mira Mesa, said she never thought he would take to the sport, but after she was talked into giving it a try last summer, she was amazed to see her dog 'jump on and refuse to get off the board.'
The winner was Buddy who also rode with his owner in the 4th Annual comeptition
Bobby Gorgeous waits to compete in his 20lbs and under heat at the 4th annual Helen Woodward Animal Center "Surf Dog Surf-A-Thon"
Surfer, judge and animal centre board Chairman Bryce Rhodes said that while all the dogs have a great time, about 20 per cent fall into the upper echelon of athletes that the dog surfing community calls 'pros'.
Mr Rhodes, who is also the grandson of the late Helen Woodward, said the centre's founder would have been delighted to see the Surf-A-Thon.
'Our long-term goal is to put ourselves out of business - to see an end to the euthanisation of animals,' he said.
Launched in 2006, the contest started out as a fun way that pet owners could ride the surf with their pets and raise a little money.
Since then, it has mushroomed into a major event that draws national television coverage. The dogs are judged on several criteria - the length of the ride, the size of the wave ridden and their on-board manoeuvers.
Dogs receive extra points if they surf without their owner, and if they stand on the board rather than lie down.
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