San Diego – If you see a dog surfing near a Southern California beach, it’s not just a pet trick. Ricochet, the “SURFice dog,” has been hanging ten for various fundraisers, including raising $10,000 for a paraplegic boy’s medical expenses.
This dog’s story begins when she was a puppy. Her owner Judy Fridono, from San Diego, Calif., trained the pup to help people with disabilities, teaching her to fetch objects and pull down zippers and turn off light switches. It was familiar territory for Fridono, founder of Puppy Prodigies, a program designed to provide puppies with training and care so they can best complement adult behaviour.
Training Ricochet to assist disabled people was all going swimmingly until Fridono discovered the dog’s love of chasing birds.
“I couldn’t place Ricochet with a disabled person because who knew when the urge to attack birds would overcome her?” says Fridono in a phone interview with DigitalJournal.com.
Disheartened but not discouraged, she decided to train her golden retriever for an unusual activity: surfing. Fridono said Ricochet already displayed great balance skills when she was a pup, when her owner tried out some surfing sessions. What began as light training sessions in a small kiddie pool escalated into giving Ricochet lessons in the Pacific Ocean.
In the summer of 2009, two-year-old Ricochet embarked on her first fundraiser by surfing with 15-year-old quadriplegic surfer Patrick Ivison. Those who came to support the show poured in $10,000 to help his medical expenses. Also, three years of his therapy is funded by Ricochet’s sponsor, the Rose Foundation.
Ricochet surfed tandem with Ivison, meaning the dog was also on Ivison’s board. Sure, there might be many surfing dogs out there but Fridono says she hadn’t heard of any canines riding waves on the same boards as disabled adaptive surfers.”
But how does a dog stay balanced on a board few humans can master?
“It’s all instinctual,” Fridono believes. “This is what Ricochet was born to do.”
This charitable dog is working hard to raise money for various causes through its Surfin’ for Paws-abilities initiatives. Also, Ricochet helped out with a toy drive over Christmas, getting toys to 630 kids. She is currently taking part in a fundraiser for a young boy Ian McFarland who suffered a traumatic brain injury that left him disabled.
A video (embedded above) telling the story of Ricochet’s journey has so far raked in nearly $10,000, and the majority of that money is going to young Ian. The video has gone viral, accumulating more than 2 million views.
Ricochet’s presence on social media isn’t limited to YouTube. Fridono even set up a Facebook group for the inspirational pet, a fan page boasting more than 4,400 members.
And if you’re curious about the dog’s name, Fridono has a simple explanation. “I named him Ricochet because when she was young, she was so energetic, bouncing off the walls.” She pauses. “Ricochet’s name is still appropriate because she’s become so inspirational and is bouncing all over the world, touching millions of lives as she does.”