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Pups hit the water for the Surf Dog Surf-a-Thon in Del Mar

Doggies paddled out and caught waves to raise funds for the Helen Woodward Animal Center.

DEL MAR, Calif. — Some lucky pups made a splash at the 16th annual Surf Dog Surf-a-thon in Del Mar on Sunday.  The doggies paddled out and caught waves to raise funds for the Helen Woodward Animal Center.

“If you get the good wave with the good dog, it’s impressive and you get the big cheers from the crowds,” said spectator Dan Dunbar.

They may have sported sunglasses and mohawks, but these surf dogs are no beach bums. They’re actually seasoned pros.

“It’s fantastic,” said spectator Joe Lynde. “The dogs are super impressive. Looks like they’re having the time of their lives.“

The pups were proving that man’s best friend is capable of amazing things and were raising funds for a very good cause.

“Amazing animals out here showing the bond between animals and their owners,” said Jessica Gercke with Helen Woodward Animal Center.

Last year’s contest was held virtually due to the pandemic, where they streamed a collection of videos from around the world. This year’s return to the beach is extra special for those involved.

“It’s just really lovely to see people out here and how happy they are, and I think we’ve needed a day like this for a long time,” said Jessica.

The Helen Woodward Animal Center has 14 unique programs including everything from rescued dogs and cats to therapy horseback riding.

“It’s all really showing that animals help us and we help them, and really using that to create as many programs as we have to bring that beautiful love of animals and people who love animals to the world,” said Jessica.

The surf dogs are actually life-savers because all their registration money and sponsored donations go directly toward helping rescued dogs, which makes their surf session all the more meaningful.

“We did good,” said surfer Micheal Willis, who surfed with Gilbert the dog. “We wanted to have as much fun as we could. It feels good to participate to help humans giving back. It felt like riding on top of the world.”