More than 4,000 beach, surf and dog-loving fans cheered the winners of Helen Woodward Animal Center’s Surf Dog Surf-A-thon, sponsored by Iams, on to victory at last Sunday’s 7th annual event. The September 9th festivities saw Surf Dog Ricochet coasting into first place but her surfing skill wasn’t the only thing that made waves. Ricochet’s fundraising efforts were a part of the over $75,000 raised to support the pets and the programs at Helen Woodward Animal Center.
The event, held at Dog Beach in Del Mar, is the largest surfing dog competition in the nation and drew surf-dog crowd favorites and newbie surf-pups alike (including first-time-surfer, Iams’ Four-Legged V.P. of Canine Communications, Pawl Griffin). The coast-riding canines competed in four different weight class divisions with winners from each going nose to nose in the final “hang twenty” surf heat judged by world champion surfer Guy Takayama; surf instructor Kahuna Bob, Mike Emerson and Pat McGriff from the Swami’s Surfing Association; pro surfers Sunshine Makrow, Bruce Hooker and Bob Burkere and TransWorld SURF Editor-in-Chief Chris Cote.
Of the 70 competing sur”fur” canines, only three could win the ultimate title of “Best in Surf” and Ricochet’s sure footed maneuvers secured her the “Top Dog” position. Other standout surf dogs include second place finisher, Abbie and third place finisher, Nani. Nani, a regular competitor, will continue surfing for fun but is hanging up her competitive rash guard this year. Her owner Peter Noll was moved by her final victory. “The HWAC Surf-A-Thon was Nani’s first Surf Dog competition in 2008. We’ve participated every year since. As a result, it made us aware of all the wonderful things they do! It has become our mission to support and promote the HWAC however we can!” All surf dog winners took home trophies and gift baskets and Ricochet won a year’s supply of Iams pet food and Tagg, the Pet Tracker, for her first place finish. True to the celebrity dog’s charitable nature, Ricochet and owner Judy Fridono donated these prizes to another needy animal shelter.
On land, several celebrities were on hand to assist with the Beach Bum Bikini Babe Canine Costume Contest including celebrity hosts Jagger and Kristi from Magic 92.5 and celebrity judges Jenni Pulos, co-star of the popular Bravo reality show, Flipping Out, and Bonnie-Jill Lafline, NBA’s only female scout of the LA Lakers and celebrity canine Pawl Griffin, enjoying some down-time after his surf.
Top fundraisers for this year’s Surf Dog Surf-A-Thon included group fundraisers – The So Cal Surf Dogs and top individual fundraiser – Surf Dog Ricochet and owner Fridono who made an individual contribution of over $7,000! Asked about her extraordinary efforts surrounding the Surf Dog Surf-A-Thon, Fridono explained, “Ricochet and I are proud to represent the Surf Dog Surf-A-Thon event because it personifies what dog surfing is all about, having fun with your dog, celebrating the human/animal bond, and most importantly, raising funds for orphaned animals. Dog surfing is a fun activity for the whole family and I find great joy watching young kids get out there with their dogs -- it really is a great day at the beach!” Additionally, all proceeds from the registration fees and activities went directly towards the animals and programs at Helen Woodward Animal Center bringing in over $75,000.
There were some exciting firsts for the popular canine surf competition, as well. This year, Surf Dog Surf-A-Thon enthusiasts were able to watch the competition “live” from anywhere in the world with a Helen Woodward Animal Center hosted “Google Plus Hangout.” Viewers tuned in and commented throughout the day from as far away as Australia.
Another Surf Dog Surf-A-Thon “first” was the exciting attempt to obtain two world records – Biggest Dog Paw-ty/Party Wave (most dogs on one wave, on separate boards) and Longest Canine “Hang Twenty” Surf Ride. The Party Wave effort included three attempts with 37 enlisted dogs and owners out in the water searching for the perfect wave. Video and photographs are being studied to confirm the number but it appears that 14 canines surfed in together on the Party Wave and Hall of Champion Surf Dog Buddy took the longest solo ride that day. Guinness has been in touch and is considering the final results.
For more information on the Surf Dog Surf-A-Thon visit www.animalcenter.org or call 858-756-4117. You may also stop by Helen Woodward Animal Center at 6461 El Apajo Road, Rancho Santa Fe in Rancho Santa Fe.
About Helen Woodward Animal Center: Helen Woodward Animal Center is a private, non-profit organization where “people help animals and animals help people.” Founded in 1972 in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., the Center provides services for more than 57,000 people and thousands of animals annually through adoptions, educational and therapeutic programs both onsite and throughout the community. Helen Woodward Animal Center is also the creator of the international Home 4 the Holidays pet adoption drive and the Animal Center Education Services program, teaching the business of saving lives to animal welfare leaders from around the world.