SAN DIEGO, Calif. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — There are approximately a half a million service dogs in the United States helping people overcome challenges in their day to day lives. They come in all shapes and sizes and do everything from alerting a diabetic when their blood sugar is low, helping people in wheelchairs navigate the world, to easing the pain of mental illness. But there is only one dog that does what Ricochet does, therapy dog. This golden does something so unique that you have to see it for yourself.
“I’m Judy Fridona and this is my dog, Ricochet.”
At just eight weeks old, Fridono knew her puppy was something special.
Ricochet could surf, but that’s not all.
Fridona states, “At one point, Ricochet jumped off her board and onto Patrick’s. So, it was really her decision to do that.”
The video of that ride went viral. More than 6.5 million people watched Ricochet help the young quadriplegic ride the waves. She followed that with a ride with Ian.
Fridona says, “He was about five or six and he was in a tragic accident with his parents in a car crash. His parents were killed and he ended up with a brain injury.”
There are others Ricochet has helped … Jose Martinez stepped on an IED while serving in Afghanistan … the two often share a board.
Martinez states, “It changed my perspective and I just kept going and now I’m training to compete to make the USA team.”
West is autistic and non-verbal. He was afraid of water and animals.
“The first wave that they caught, west stood up and grabbed ahold of her and was just so happy and safe.” Says Lauren, West’s Mom.
Ricochet was the first certified therapy dog that also does adaptive surfing, a combination that Judy believes heals the soul.
Fridona says, “The ocean is very healing which has already been proven and the healing power of a dog. So, it’s just really a very powerful combination.”
Martinez says, “She even came up to me and actually touched my forehead with her forehead. It was pretty awesome, right before we caught the wave.”
Connecting with those who need it the most on land and in the sea.
Fridona says, “There’s always a sense of awe when Ricochet’s surfing with someone.”
Ricochet doesn’t just connect in the water, she also works with service members on shore who have PTSD. Ricochet is 14 years old. She has raised more than a million dollars for people with disabilities through her non-profit puppy prodigies. Through the charity, Judy raises and trains service dogs, emotional support dogs and therapy dogs for people with disabilities.
Contributors to this news report include: Marsha Lewis, Producer; Roque Correa, Editor and Videographer.
RICOCHET’S STORY: THE SURFING THERAPY DOG
BACKGROUND: According to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), a service dog is “a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability.” Service dogs are valued working partners and companions to over 80 million Americans and can range from very small to very large. Breeds like Great Danes, Saint Bernards, and Bernese Mountain Dogs possess the height and strength to provide mobility assistance, while Poodles, which come in a variety of sizes, are particularly versatile. A toy Poodle puppy can begin early scent training games in preparation for the work of alerting on blood sugar variations, while a larger Standard Poodle puppy may learn to activate light switches and carry objects. The most common breeds trained as guide dogs are Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and German Shepherds. The best service dogs are handler-focused, desensitized to distractions, and highly trained to reliably perform specific tasks. They are not easily diverted from their tasks at home or in public and remain attentive and responsive to their owners while working.
BENEFITS OF SERVICE ANIMALS: Essential tasks that service dogs perform are guiding people with visual impairments, signaling certain sounds for those who are deaf, retrieving items for people with mobility issues, or alerting about impending cardiac episodes or seizures. Different disabilities require specific things from service animals, and their training even differentiates this for them before they start working with a person with a disability. Service dogs support people’s physical disabilities in a variety of ways. Often their alerts are preventative for conditions like epilepsy and dysautonomia. But many of their tasks are household actions like turning on lights and providing stability for their owner for standing, walking, or transferring out of a wheelchair. Emotional benefits are also common for people with a service dog. In general, pets boost their owner’s level of social confidence, enable them to develop supportive relationships with others, gives them more motivation, and helps them have an optimistic view of the future.
STUDY REVEALS NEW IMPACT OF SERVICE DOGS: A study out of The American Journal of Occupational Therapy suggests the impact of a service dog may extend beyond the recipient and have positive impacts on family members. Funded by Elanco Animal Health Incorporated and conducted by Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine, it’s the first of its kind study using standardized measures to examine the relationship between the human animal bond and psychosocial outcomes among people with service dogs. Results indicated that individuals with a service dog exhibited significantly better psychosocial health, including higher levels of social and emotional functioning, and better functioning at work and/or school. “It’s gratifying to help further scientific understanding about the human-animal bond,” said Tony Rumschlag, DVM, Director, Consulting Veterinarians, U.S. Companion Animal Business Unit, Elanco. “As veterinarians, in-depth knowledge about the mechanisms of that relationship will enable us to truly partner with owners on pet care.”
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