A young Golden Retriever and semi-pro surfer, Ricochet, rode the waves to victory on Sunday at a California annual dog Surf-a-Thon, but it was a novice therapy dog that emerged from the water as a new star to watch.
Bo Diddley, a 5-year-old therapy dog, sat his way to a second place finish on a longboard in the extra-large dog heat in his first foray in the San Diego canine surfing scene, delighting his owner and his trainer.
"This is his first championship competition. He's only been surfing a couple of weeks," said Mark Taylor, who owns the lab-shepherd mix. "He really likes it."
While Diddley waited calmly to be hauled back out into the surf, volunteer trainer Shawn Schuette glowed. He'd started working with Diddley several days ago in practice runs before Sunday's event at the Del Mar Dog Beach, put on by the Helen Woodward Animal Center for the seventh year.
Jessica Gerke, spokeswoman for the center, said about 80 dogs had been registered for the event, billed as the world's largest dog-surfing competition.
"We look for the length of the wave, whether or not the dog starts surfing on white water or the wave," said Bob Burk, one of the event judges.
"If they move around and look like they're comfortable, if they stand instead of sitting, that gets points."
As for today's champion, Ricochet repeatedly rode the smooth waves both standing and sitting with tremendous grace and calm, her nose pointed down as if unaware of her audience, winning an award for "Best in Surf."
The video here shows how competitive surfdog contests can become - Abbie wins an earlier heat by T-boning her opponent's board, then hijacking it to ride to a stolen victory.