Surf Lesson Time (for Your Dog)

Woofers + waves are the right equation in Del Mar.

Helen K. Woodward Animal Center

CANINE QUIRKY: We Golden Staters are called a quirky bunch, and rightly so. We can often be found doing our thing, marching to our own beat, trying a new idea or innovation or scotching the stuff that didn't work before. And we don't give much thought to what others think of us, even if words like "weird" or "whimsical" or "offbeat" come into play. It's part of the Californian identity, to live large 'n loose, as much a part of the identity as surfing, foam, and a Pacific sunset. But those are pleasures that don't have to be enjoyed just by human beach buffs; we know our dogs are also pretty dang happy running up and down the wet sand and bounding into the waves. With that in mind, and keeping to our quirky self-identity, the Helen K. Woodward Animal Center holds a whimsy-laden set of seminars each summer, classes that put the spotlight not on bipedal surfers but those with four legs and a tail. Yep, we're a state that has actual dog surfing and pup-oriented paddleboard lessons, a fact that holds true to our fun-seeking spirit. Are you ready to wade out with your wagger at Del Mar for a 50-minute (surfing) or 70-minute (paddleboarding) lesson? Then make for the beach on...

SATURDAY, JUNE 20: There are several sessions throughout the day, and more to come later in the summer, and all have an eye on a big Sunday in September. September 13th, to be exact, when the fundraising Surf Dog Surf-A-Thon, "back by pup-ular demand," hosts a bevy of wet-furred barkers out on the boards. Of course, you don't need to enter the late-summer Surf-A-Thon if you don't want to -- you can still take a lesson with your Lassie -- but if you and your Lassie become quite skilled, you might keep it in mind. There are canine life vests, so phew, they're absolutely required, and there is an on-land introduction ahead of each class, so no human-pooch pair will get sent directly into the foam. If your Fido has been a longtime beach lover, and you love the aspects of surfing and the surfing life, this could be the pastime you've both been longing for. And your pup's afternoon nap time later that day will definitely give him some of the craziest of dreams. No more just chasing balls while he's asleep, once he's been on a board in the shallow surf.

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