Ricochet the SURFice Dog: An Extraordinary Canine Healer

By Jo Singer


Ricochet – Photo Credit: https://www.facebook.com/SurfDogRicochet

While I am totally aware the PoC website is devoted primarily to our beloved cats; featuring stories and information pertaining to the feline species, just in case some of our readers might consider this piece to be a major transgression, please forgive me for offering a blog about Ricochet, one of my favorite canines. She has touched my heart deeply with the healing work in which she has been involved for many years.

I first learned about Ricochet, the amazing SURFice dog a long time ago. The work she was doing with people with disabilities and kids with special needs had transformed the lives of so many that I just had to learn more about her. I gathered my courage and reached out to Judy Fridono, Ricochet’s “partner”.

Since canines have not yet mastered “human speak”, Judy graciously accepted my phone call. During our call Judy made it apparently clear that while she “drives the car”, Ricochet is the navigator. And as we spoke I actually could feel Ricochet’s healing energy coming through loud and clear; energy which Ricochet gives unconditionally to anyone who needs it.

From the moment she was born, this magnificent Golden retriever knew what her life’s mission would be. While Judy was training her to be a service dog, Ricochet preferred chasing birds and squirrels. Judy said, “We couldn’t take the risk that she might take off after a squirrel while she was with a person with a disability”. Judy then released Ricochet from the program so that she could be just who she is- allowing the high spirited canine to blossom in amazing ways.

Today, in addition to helping kids to love themselves, Ricochet has connected with folk in the military who are dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). In the military, a Battle Buddy is a soldier’s battlefield partner; accomplishing a common mission together. Always ready to assist one another, the Battle Buddy relationship is one that is crucial.

Surf dog Ricochet’s battle buddy is Staff Sergeant Randy Dexter. Together, they have a mission to raise awareness, remove the stigma and provide help to those suffering with PTSD. Disorder, Traumatic brain injuries (TBI’s) and combat issues.

This past New Year’s Eve, Surf Dog Ricochet, the SURFice™ Dog celebrated with a special ocean therapy tandem surf session for members of our military and people/kids with disabilities. Ricochet is the only dog in the world that surfs as an assistive aid and SURFice dog™ to those with physical, emotional and psychiatric challenges including kids with special needs, autism, adults with disabilities, wounded warriors and veterans with PTSD.

Ricochet surfed with retired Sergeant Dexter, who served two tours in Iraq and now suffers with PTSD. Dexter said, “Richochet has given me a new lease of life. PTSD make it very difficult to go out, but now that I’ve met Ricochet I get to enjoy the things I used to love. To me she’s a guardian angel.”

Sadly, every 65 minutes a veteran with PTSD commits suicide. Ricochet and Dexter have created the PTSD Battle Buddy Initiative to help other active duty service members and veterans with PTSD. Ricochet and Dexter are committed to changing that alarming statistic through their efforts at Surfdogrichochet PTSD Battle Initiative.

Judy said:

“When you put the healing power of the ocean and the healing power of a dog together, you can’t match it!”

Since it’s impossible to resist falling in love with Ricochet and to appreciate the SURFice she so unconditionally offers I very much would like to introduce this remarkable canine to our readers. Please take a moment to watch the touching video uploaded to YouTube by Surf dog Ricochet.

Jo Singer

P.S. Judy says that Ricochet adores kitties so she was truly honored to share information about herself on a cat website… 🙂

Associated pages: Cats helping to treat soldiers with PTSD and American soldiers find comfort in cats.

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Ricochet the SURFice Dog: An Extraordinary Canine Healer — 41 Comments

  1. Thanks Jo for writing about Ricochet. I love to see this. There is though (for me) a stark contrast between the gentle positiveness of a therapy dog doing her work and the destructive folly of war.

    every 65 minutes a veteran with PTSD commits suicide

    This is a hidden disaster in society and it is happening in the UK or any other country who sends soldiers into war.

    We hear of lives lost. Many more soldiers are injured than killed and a big percentage of these are damaged psychologically.

    Their lives are broken. There is a lot of healing to do. I love the way animals assist in the slow process.

    Dogs are probably best at this. I am very impressed with Ricochet. I admire her. It is very positive work. There is hope.

    Soldiers living through PTSD are probably living through a kind of hell without hope.

    When politicians send soldiers to the battlefield I am not sure they fully understand the impact it will have on the lives of the ones who come home and of the nation in general.

  2. Wouldn’t call it a major transgression Jo but poor Elisa got shot down in flames once for writing about dogs on a cat site 🙁
    Looking forward to your next cat story.

    • Thanks Rose. Jo asked me first if she could write about Ricochet and I said Yes. I said yes because we are all connected and all very similar at a fundamental level.

      Although this is a dog story, it is also a human story (more so a human story) and humans manage the companion animal world. There is a connection.

      I mentioned to Jo that Elisa got shot down for writing about dogs but I think that was a bit unfair. They are very similar topics and I believe that we can learn from the odd (rare) article about a sweet therapy dog.

      I hope you are OK with that decision.

      • I didn’t mean anything wrong Micheal just remembered that time Elisa started writing blogs about dogs here and a lot of folk said they liked it better a cat site only that there’s plenty about dogs and cats don’t get a look in when dogs are around like the old second class citizen thing.
        I like dogs and it’s a good dog but I’m always strapped for time and want to read about cats that all but sorry I shouldn’t have commented just not read it.

  3. This is a very nice story about a very nice dog. Jo – you are a brilliant writer – thank you!

    I have to agree with Michael that PTSD and wars and all that are a huge problem for society – there are so many people who are unjured both physically and/or mentally because of it.

    I wonder if those soldiers, so called patriots, think about the reasons why they are doing what they do. My guess is that they are constantly fed misinformation and then when they get out there they realize how stupid the whole thing is. I really do believe that, in effect, our politicians who promote war are themselves war criminals of the highest degree, responsible for untold misery. They will never know about wonderful dogs who help the victims of their warmongering. It’s a societal disconnect.

    It’s NOT patriotic to join the army and fight for your country necessarily. With so few jobs around and so many poor people it is they who join the army and become victims of the 1%. I’m so glad New York has a new mayor who sounds like a relatively normal person that you or I could relate to for a change.

    “every 65 minutes a veteran with PTSD commits suicide”

    This is incredibly shocking. These are not even the people who died fighting or the civilians who died as ‘collateral’. These wars go on for many many years long after they are over – and the lands where they happened are infact returned further into the medevil ages than they were to begin with.

    This is a total and utter and complete failure of our incredibly stupid 2 party government system.

    Thank goodness animals don’t hold grudges and are there to help people who are genuinely looking for and who need help. Animals give us hope and our species often gives them despair in return. We are despicable.

    • I hope I don’t offend anyone but in my opinion (and this is becoming clearer to the politicians) the Afghan war was and is a complete nonsense and a failure. It could be argued that the damage caused to soldiers has been for nothing, which makes it all the more shocking. We don’t know why we are in Afghanistan. The politicians don’t answer the question, “Why are we there?”

      Taleban “poised to regain Helmand: after UK exit – Times newspaper headline today. Pretty well sums it up. The Taleban have never been beaten.

      • I hate to say it but it kind of serves our war criminals right that they can’t beat the taliban. It sort of makes me happy in a cynical sort of way. All power needs to be kept in check.

        My personal feeling about the so called ‘patriots’ who join the military is that tey are the exact opposite – they are killing their own country, they are helping to drag their own country into more crimes against humanity. They are basically war criminals – not soldiers – not anymore.

        • I totally see that argument. Occupying Afghanistan does not help create world peace. It does the opposite. I have to say I am in despair about what is going on. It is a form of collective human madness.

          • I honestly and completely believe Tony Blair is a war criminal who should be tried and locked up.

            Why is this not happening? Why do they get away with it but when some other poor country intervenes and kills they are crimes against humanity – but oh no, not our war criminals, they can act with impunity.

  4. I loved the video, Jo!
    An amazing dog.
    Aside from any reference to war, this story reinforces that animals are perfect as they are. They each possess their own unique personality, strengths, and abilities.
    That is where our focus should always be. We should always support and help them make the most of who they are. It is never our place to try to make them something they’re not.

  5. No matter how many times I watch the video, it continues to touch me so deeply. Ricochet is truly a remarkable dog. The work she is doing now is crucial-

    We must find a way to end war- to learn to respect one another even if our philosophies and beliefs are so different.

    Too many brave men are seriously injured- many of them will never heal… and to what end? I cannot figure it out no matter how hard I try.

  6. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Jo! Ricochet reminds us that we all must overcome any inclination to separate or “tribalize” ourselves from each other, but instead to help and enhance each other. Good job spreading the positive message!

    • Yes, well said. I totally agree with that sentiment. Dog and cat people should work together. It is a message that can apply to people of different countries, different religions, different colour, any differences. We need to respect all.

  7. Thank you so much for allowing Jo to write this story. We are grateful to you for helping us raise awareness about military with PTSD and the alarming suicide rate. Thanks again! Ricochet’s “mom”.

    • My pleasure. It really is. Thank you for being a mom to such a lovely companion animal who makes a difference. That is special. We like special things on PoC.

  8. Not being a dog person, I haven’t read about this before, but since you wrote the article, Jo, of course I read it and think it’s laudable when anyone of any species can help others who have been made vulnerable by conflict or as an accident of birth. IMHO cats, especially, are excellent therapists; and even allopathic doctors are now increasingly aware of, and admitting that, cats, more than any other species, have healing properties and abilities. Their purrs are of a frequency that strengthens bones (their own, presumably, but ours as well!); their companionship is said to lower human blood pressure and improve human heart health; and being around them makes those who love them happier. Here’s to all who help others!

  9. I love both cats and dogs (and horses) and hubby and I share our home with all three species. Thank you for such an inspiring article, Jo. I learned about Riccochet from you some years ago and I think she is an amazing animal and her mom is a very special person for working with her dog to help others…..especially our Military personel suffering from PTSD. I have a soft spot for injured Military members as well (physically or emotionally) and am so glad to read of folks helping our soldiers. I knew the suicide rate was high, but had no idea it was that high. Thank you, Michael for further opening my eyes. God bless!

  10. Reno-and Michael-

    I had to laugh because I once had a wonderful horse that was terrified of cats to the point that if she saw a kitty while anyone was on her back, she turned into a bucking bronco. It was very scary.

    Cats are found in barns and stables, not only because they are great mousers and ratters- saving the grain, but they generally make great stall companons to many horses. I was greatly disappointed that my mare- Sweet and Low didn’t feel that way.

    I often wonder if she had ever been scratched or bitten by a frightened kitty. I will never know…

  11. Jo, a wonderful article….Michael, thank you for allowing Jo to publish it here. I have been following Judy and Ricochet (and her lovely sister Rina) for quite some time. Judy and Ric raise a lot of money for animal welfare and for human assistance programs, not to mention the AWESOME work that Ricochet does with the people she helps. I think we can all learn from Judy and Ricochet, all of us.

  12. Hmmm I thought I had included praise of Judy and Ric’s efforts to raise awareness about all the issues that Ricochet helps people deal with….a class act all around.

    • Hi Kathryn, I love this dog – so gentle, positive and constructive. There is too much negativity and destruction in the world for me so I like to see a bit of the opposite.

  13. I don’t understand why there “has to be” a battle between dog and cat articles being published.This is a very special therapy dog and the entire world should know about her. She has a special calling and is vital to the recovery of many people. Yes cats have very unusual talents when it comes to therapy, they also effect many lives of people who need their services. But keep in mind there are many species that help humans through hard times. The cannot be a cap on what each species does and who writes about them. Great informative article Jo, keep up the great work.

    • Hi Amy, there is not a battle between dog and cat lovers. Not at all. I think you probably agree that. This is a story about a companion animal that helps people and cats do the same thing. In households cats often live with dogs and I think this justifies an article about a special dog.

      The common denominator in cat and dog stories is people. People connect the two species. A lot of what is written on PoC is about people. This is another example.

  14. It’s not a battle it was a fair comment that a lot of folk love POC because it’s for cats and regulars said that’s why we came instead of other animal sites.
    Elisa writes about dogs on dog sites.

  15. When I run across a story that is so touching and sweet, such as Ricochet’s story- because PoC is so special to me, and I am drawn to people who love cats and share about them- it’s almost a no-brainer to want to share these stories when I hear about them with y’all.

    I agree strongly with Michael that we are all connected- that the lives of all animals are precisous- and we all have so much to share. This said my “favorite” topic is cats- since they are so dear to me. Being able to write about them with passion, heart and humor is a treasured gift… which I never take for granted!

    • Well said and nicely put Jo. I feel that at heart the interaction between dogs and people is the same as between cats and people. There are differences in the relationship but the underlying connection is the same: the love of a companion animal and the connection that comes through from that.

    • Ruth, I loved that story about Rooney. I think it speaks volumns even about people we encounter who we may meet to just learn something – mainly about ourselves I think- and when the lesson is over- they “disappear” lasting only in our memories.

      That little dog had some powerful “energy” though, because I could actually feel him- and his interaction with the kitties.

      Would that people could truly get along- agree to disagree- offering opinions for us to consider- if we are willing to keep an open mind.

      But often the need to be “right” is so powerful- that we block ourselves off from listening to others. That’s what I love about animals- they are just so darned unconditional – and, in my experience always tell the truth about what they are feeling.

      Thanks for a lovely read:)

      • Yes he was what we call ‘a ship that passed in the night’ and we never did find out where he was from, he was a very happy dog and must not have lived far from us but we will never know the end of his story and obviously weren’t meant to know.
        Yes it was wonderful Jo to see the two species interacting, we will never forget that little dog.

  16. I never get tired of hearing about all the wonderful things Ricochet & Judy are doing. I am so impressed with her compassion for childen, people with disabilities, and everything else Ricochet has done. She’s truely an amazing dog, animal, and story. Thanks Jo!

  17. Cheryl- so good to see you here! I have to agree with Michael; uplifting stories are so badly needed. I am always so happy to read about what Ricochet is doing to help.. she is truly amazing.

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