Dog of the Day
Surf Dog Ricochet
by Carie Broecker
Ricochet was born in the home of Judy Fridono, a volunteer puppy raiser and the founder of the Puppy Prodigies Neo-Natal and Early Learning Program. Judy worked with her and her littermates, preparing them from birth to become companion service dogs. At eight weeks of age, Ricochet’s nine littermates went to other homes for their next phase of training, and Ricochet stayed with Judy.
Ricochet learned to turn lights on and off and retrieve objects, and was taught basic obedience. She had excellent manners and was very bright and advanced at an early age. Ricochet would have made a wonderful companion dog to someone with a disability except for one thing—at about 9 months old, she discovered her passion for chasing birds and other small animals. Judy trained her to control her strong impulse, but even after several more months of training, she felt it would be too risky to place Ricochet with a person with a disability. Judy was in a quandary about what path Ricochet’s life would take.
Early on, as part of Ricochet’s service-dog training, she was introduced to all kinds of obstacles and surfaces and was encouraged to develop her sense of balance. She was even taught to surf by standing on a boogie board in a swimming pool. Ricochet had an amazing ability to balance. She soon graduated to balancing on a surfboard in the ocean. After only a handful of surfing lessons in the ocean, Judy was encouraged to sign Ricochet up to compete in a surf contest—and she won third place! She was only 15 months old at the time.
Judy knew Ricochet was a special dog whose talents could contribute to society. The day Ricochet placed in the surf contest, a light bulb went on for Judy, or one might call it “divine inspiration.” That day, the idea for “Surfin’ For Paws-abilities” was born, and Judy released Ricochet from her service dog role and decided to keep her as her own dog.
The mission of Surfin’ For Paws-abilities is to raise money and awareness for animal and human causes. The first fundraising effort was launched in August 2009 for quadriplegic surfer, Patrick Ivison, a teenager who had suffered a spinal chord injury as a toddler after being hit by a car. The fundraiser raised money for Patrick’s expensive three-days-a-week physical therapy.
As part of the fundraising effort, Patrick and Ricochet would get in the water and surf together. The first time out, Patrick rode on his surfboard and Ricochet on hers, but after they rode the first wave in, Ricochet had something else in mind. She jumped off her surfboard and onto Patrick’s!
She wanted to tandem surf with him. They both loved it and so did the spectators. Ricochet not only had a knack for surfing, she also had the ability to counterbalance with someone else on a board. She has since surfed with many other people with special needs, doing her part to inspire them and give them confidence that all things are possible.
In less than two years, at the age of only three and a half, Ricochet has raised more than $100,000 for over 150 charities such as Wheels 2 Water, Best Day Foundation, Pets for Patriots, and the Helen Woodward Center. She has also touched the lives of the millions of people who have watched her inspirational videos, have followed her on Facebook, or have been part of the cheerleading pack at her fundraising events and surf competitions.
Ricochet is a dynamic dog with an extraordinary spirit. People are drawn to her in a profound and inexplicable way. She has become an Internet phenomenon and a model for doing what you love as a route to finding your purpose. When we follow our bliss, our paths often take us to places we had never imagined.
To learn more about Ricochet and the causes she supports, visit www.surfdogricochet.com. Be sure to visit her video page for several videos that will inspire you and make you smile.