Ricochet, also know as Little SurFUR Girl, is a gorgeous Golden Retriever born on January 25, 2008. She is the ninth puppy in a litter of ten. Ricochet was born and raised as part of the Puppy Prodigies Program with hopes of becoming a service dog for a person with a disability. But, she was a little too interested in chasing birds, and other small animals.
Puppy Prodigies is a unique program, located in San Diego County California founded by Judy Fridono. The program is designed to provide puppies with a long-term advantage at an early age in an effort to affect adult behavior tendencies. This program works for any puppy, whether in training to be a service dog, or rescued puppies at a shelter.
A “board” meeting was held, and Ricochet’s career path changed, instead of becoming a service dog, she became a SURFice dog, so Puppy Prodigies carved out this new job for her, and she was able to stay involved in the program. Puppy Prodigies coined the name SURFice dog® especially for Ricochet, and it even came with a trademark!
Ricochet started training at just thirteen days old, before her eyes were even open. At eight weeks old, in addition to her service dog task training, she began surf dog training on a boogie board in a kiddy pool just for fun. Most of her training from that point on was conducted at home, on dry land. In the summer of 2008, Ricochet had a few practice sessions in the calm water of Fiesta Island in San Diego, California.
In September of 2008, Ricochet entered the Helen Woodward’s Surf dog surf-a-thon, but was just a young grom, a young surfer… just beginning to go in the small waves of the ocean. After that competition, and as winter approached, she continued working on dry land exercises.
In the spring of 2009, Ricochet began going out to Fiesta Island. She took small paw steps before taking the giant leap to the rough waters of the ocean. She had been in the ocean about three times when she got a last minute call to compete in the Purina Incredible Dog Challenge Surf Competition on June 12, 2009.
As a result, Ricochet went to the ocean and practiced every day for a week before the contest. She was still quite a novice at fifteen months old, but managed to win third place in the large dog category, and was only one point off from the second place winner.
Ricochet is probably best known for her inspirational video, “From Service Dog to SURFice Dog“. It went viral, and touched the lives of millions of people. Since it got so much attention, she immediately turned it into a platform to help others on a larger scale by raising more awareness for charitable causes.
It wasn’t expected, but Judy looked at it as a gift, and an opportunity to use Ricochet’s new-found prominence to create even more awareness for charitable causes. There are thousands and thousands of people who support her efforts, and through them, an incredible family of kind hearted people has been established.
Causes Ricochet Supports
Raises awareness of human & canine arthritis so those affected can get rid of their pain and have a new leash on life.
The Association of Amputee Surfers is a Non-Profit Organization made up of amputees, veterans and friends & family of the disabled. The Adaptive Surfing Foundation empowers surfers to reach their full potential.
Wheels 2 Water is a non profit organization which raises funds for those with spinal cord injury in need of physical therapy while getting everyone out of their chairs and into the ocean to enjoy the sport of surfing.
The Surfers for Autism mission is to unlock the potential of people with developmental disabilities, support advocacy for autism issues and scientific research.
Helen Woodward Animal Center is a unique, private, non-profit organization dedicated to saving the lives of animals and enriching the lives of people.
Ricochet surfs for fun, and wins contests too. Her best win was at the 2009 Helen Woodward Surf dog Surf-a-thon where she came in second overall. She has won eleven awards, is a service dog ambassador, and her fundraising initiative is part of Puppy Prodigies. Ricochet won Pet of the Year on January 6, 2010.
Ricochet is also making a difference through Surfin’ for Paws-abilities initiative which benefits individuals with disabilities, athletes with disabilities, adaptive surfers, individual pets, and other causes. Ricochet even has her own Facebook page. Judy Fridono’s mantra is focus on what you can do and not on what you can’t do.
Photo credit: Tamandra Michaels of Heart Dog Studios