About a dozen dogs traded in their leashes for life vests Saturday for the chance to ride the waves at Jupiter beach as part of a canine surfing competition to raise money for an animal rescue group.
For nearly two hours, groups of small, medium and large dogs took to blue surfboards as part of the first Dog Surfing Competition hosted by Ocean Magic Surf Shop in Jupiter. Proceeds benefit Wellington-based Big Dog Ranch Rescue.
The rough waves and meteorologists’ warning of dangerous rip currents didn’t keep the dogs out of the water.
About 500 people, and hundreds of their canine friends, attended the event, which was held at a beach access point just south of Carlin Park.
Nina Raflowitz, a surfer from Juno Beach, helped Moses, a Maltese, fight the rough seas as he competed in the small dog heat.
Raflowitz, who surfs with her young son, said it was the first time she has shared a board with a dog.
“It is so much easier with my son,” Raflowitz said.
But she said the little 3-year-old white Maltese has “great potential.”
“He just needs to get out there more,” Raflowitz said.
West Palm Beach resident Gigi Wenz waded into the surf to help her 11-month-old Labradoodle, Jax, climb onto the board for the big dog competition. Surfer Corey Surette, a resident of Jupiter Farms, floated with Jax as she rode wave after wave back to the shore.
It was the second time Jax had surfed. Wenz brought her to the beach a couple of weeks ago for a training session.
Wenz said she learned about the fundraiser from a friend.
“I like to help out,” Wenz said. “I give as much as I can.”
Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg and his 2-year-old basset hound, Cookie, also attended Saturday’s contest. But Aronberg said Cookie favored the sand over the sea.
Aronberg rescued Cookie from Big Dog Ranch about a year ago. Aronberg said he learned about the event from the rescue group.
“This organization changed my life,” he said. “I don’t know what I would do without my beloved basset hound.”
Shellie Chiet, event coordinator for Ocean Magic, said the shop hopes to make the competition an annual event. Similar contests in California draw thousands of people each year, she said.
Chiet said the shop spent three to four months organizing the event, and had been offering dog surfing lessons to help teach pets how to compete. Organizers had expected 150 people to attend, but were pleased with the overwhelming turnout, Chiet said.