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East Coast vs. West Coast. Dog eat dog. After years of watching pro and amateur surfers compete to be king of the waves, surfing dogs will have their day.

The Florida International Dog Surfing Championship kicks off Saturday in Cocoa Beach. Onyx Shorepound Surfdog and her sister, Booker D. Surfdog, who have been surfing for almost 10 years, will square off against surf dogs from South Carolina, Texas, Georgia, New Jersey and Virginia. The event, according to organizer Adam Steinberg, will be absolutely pawesome.

"Onyx just won a dog surfing championship in July in Jupiter for a rescue event, and Booker is the East Coast dog surfing champion," he said, adding the sport has been around for 10 years on the West Coast. The East Coast Dog Surfing Championship has been held at the Easter Surf Festival in Cocoa Beach the past two years.

The expanded dog competition gives the city an added economic boost. The Cocoa Beach Air Show, which normally took place in October, moved south, changing its name to the Melbourne Air and Space Show. Admission to the Florida International Dog Surfing Championship is $5 per day and free for kids younger than 13.

"The training process is intense as human surfing is one of the most challenging sports. Canine surfing is equally as challenging. It's intensive, and practice is everything," Steinberg said.

Booker and Onyx are in competitive training mode. Steinberg describes their diet: Very high protein, high vegetable, high vitamin. No carbs. Exercising double per day.

"Booker is in a lean. fighting 70 pounds, where she can go up to 85 pounds," he said. "If I turn my back, Onyx will open the refrigerator herself, and take everything out. It's hard keeping Onyx at her training level weight. We try to keep her between 60 and 65."

The exercise? Swimming, walking and surfing.

Steinberg hopes their training pays off.

But it's not all about canine surfing. Other features include champion Frisbee dogs catching some wicked air, and a dock diving competition, and the American I-dogs competition (think "American Idol"), with auditions from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday. Also look for flyboarding exhibitions, tandem surf dog competition and a blessing of the animals.

There's an Iron Water Dog Challenge - the top dog that is all around the most proficient in dock diving, dog surfing and speed racing gets a prize.

The SPCA of Brevard will host an adopt-a-thon. Steinberg's group prefers to work with no-kill shelters, adding Booker found "forever homes" for six dogs on Easter weekend, and this time, they're hoping to match and exceed that.

With the dog surfing event, Brevard residents and festivalgoers get a chance to bring their dogs to the beach. However, they must be on a leash. Look for food trucks, entertainment and music - J.T. Curtis Band performs Saturday night, and Delgado will give a grand finale performance Sunday.

Housekeeping rules:

• Dogs must be up to date on all temperament and vaccination schedules.

• Dogs must be leashed at all times.

• Dogs should be hydrated.

• Always carry a bag with you for dogs droppings.

• Your dog might have anxiety being around crowds, so have a mode to calm them down a little. Bring treats and be patient.

"This is a celebration of all things dogs," Steinberg said. "If you love dogs, you're going to love this event."

Contact Sangalang at 321-242-3630
or jsangalang@floridatoday.com.

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