Surf dog Ricochet interacts and surfs with kids with special needs, people with disabilities, wounded warriors and veterans with PTSD as an assistive aid
and paws-on healer.
Every 65 minutes a veteran with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) takes their life by suicide around the globe. That is 22 veterans a day! Surfice dog Ricochet and her pet parent Judy Fridono in Escondido (San Diego) are trying their best to reduce this figure and facilitate engagement and build new relationships withbest interracial dating sites kids with special needs, people with disabilities, wounded warriors and veterans with PTSD. “We strive to renew their spirits and give them a sense of purpose and productivity as they continue their transition into day-to-day life,” tells Judy.
Birth of a surf dog…
“Born on 25 January 2008, Ricochet (aka Ricki) was eight weeks old in a kiddie pool. Though the name sounds like a boy, Ricki is a Golden Retriever girl who enjoys catching waves. There was a boogie board in the pool, and she climbed on it and had good balance. Since that day, she’s been surfing,” says Judy. Today, she’s an international surfer, hero and therapy dog, surfing with people with special needs and disabilities. Ricochet has won several top dog awards, including AKC Award for Canine Excellence, The American Humane Association Hero Dog Award, and ASPCA Dog of The Year Award. She’s popularly known as ‘Rip Curl Ricki’ or ‘The Little surFUR Girl’. She took little or no interest in chasing birds and small animals. So, her career path changed from being a ‘Service dog’ to a ‘SURFice’ dog. Moreover, Ricky was initially raised as part of the Puppy Prodigies Neo-Natal & Early Learning Program—an innovative programme in San Diego—with an aim of becoming a service dog for a person with a disability. However, when she started working with military with PTSD, she was trained to mitigate their disability. “She also started alerting to their physical and emotional pain. So, when she’s with one of them, she sometimes functions as their service dog or emotional support dog,” mentions Judy. Today, Ricki also works with “Surfin’ for Paws-abilities” which raises awareness, and funds for human/animal causes.
First boy to surf with Ricochet…
“Patrick Ivision was 14 years old when we met him. When he was a toddler, a car ran over him and he became quadriplegic. He does adaptive surfing and was the first boy that Ricochet ever surfed with,” narrates Judy. Patrick was on a wheelchair when Ricochet met him in 2009 and she never had surfed a person with a disability then. But everybody agreed to give the out of box thinking a shot. Judy says that they wanted to use the footage of Patrick and Ricochet surfing together for a fundraising promo. Both pushed off into their first wave and surfed all the way to reach shore. They had a deep connection, and if it was not Patrick trusting in the SURFice dog, Ricochet might have never been able to live her purpose. So, Patrick became the first fundraiser for Ricochet. This fund is for miscellaneous fundraisers, campaigns and costs associated with Ricochet’s adaptive surfing.
Waves of Empowerment (WOE), a programme about inspiring and empowering military with PTSD, kids with special needs and people with disabilities, is designed to help individuals themselves by helping others. These individuals are those whom with Ricochet has previously surfed or worked with, who are now volunteering to help the next wave of disabled surfers get on board with her! Some pretty amazing transformations have been seen in the people who Ricochet has helped so far. As such, Judy says that they have created an opportunity for them to paw it forward too as a Wave Warrior, or other volunteer opportunities. Here, a Wave Warrior is someone who Ricochet has helped previously and they are now helping new kids and adults surf with the SURFice dog. They become part of the water team. They can help in the water or on the beach. Take video, photos, help unload cars, cheerlead or a whole host of other things suited for kids and adults that volunteer. WOE helps people foster a sense of belongingness, ease the symptoms of stress, anxiety, etc and the programme also enhances compassion and empathy. It also helps individuals reintegrate into the community through a fun, safe environment and activity and improves relationships at home, workplace, school, etc from the positive interactions they experience on the beach. It also improves self-esteem through leadership roles and responsibility. “Ricochet makes immediate bonds with people, so being able to interact on the surfboard and off really helps, concludes Judy. Ricochet is now widely known as an award-winning surf dog who has become an inspirational phenomenon, philanthropic role model, internet sensation, fundraising marvel, community advocate, goodwill ambassador, and muse to millions. She is indeed a Canine Ambassador for Surfers with Disabilities.
Awards & Achievements
- Titled Ricochet, a book written by Judy Fridono, went to #46 on Amazon’s best seller list within 12 hours of release.
- Oprah Winfrey Network premiered Ricochet in its new series Beyond Belief hosted by New York Times best-selling author Wes Moore
- Awards conferred on Ricochet include: AKC Award for Canine Excellence; The American Humane Association Hero Dog Award; and ASPCA Dog of The Year Award.