Ricochet, aka Surf Dog, joined Patrick Ivison, to celebrate 10 years of surfing together last Sunday.
Patrick, 24, was hit by a car when he was just 14 months old, suffering aC4/C5 incomplete spinal cord injury that left him a quadriplegic. He has been surfing with Ricochet since he was 15 after she unexpectedly jumped on his surfboard. Since then, the dog has been a pioneer in helping kids with physical disabilities to surf as a form of assistance, healing, therapy, and empowerment.
On hand at the event were several supporters from around the country hoping to surf with Ricochet, who also hosted a social media sweepstakes that awarded a lucky winner $250, among other prizes. “This sweepstake is our way of high-fiving every one of our supporters who helped Ricochet and Patrick get to where they are today,” says Judy Fridono, Ricochet’s guardian.
The video of the first time Ricochet surfed has gone viral, having been seen more than 12 million times.
“I will remember that day at the beach forever,” says Patrick. “Ricochet and I caught a few waves side by side, and then she decided she wanted to ride with me. When she hopped on my back it was a magical experience. We were in sync and could keep the board stable by helping each other. It was crazy and amazing. The fundraiser Ricochet held for me secured enough money to give me intense physical therapy through high school and the independence I gained in that time is incalculable.”
Since then, Patrick has graduated from USC, and lives and works in LA, where has a girlfriend, an apartment, friends and the confidence and independence to live a full and “normal” life.
“I can trace everything in my life back to surfing with Ricochet and that first fundraiser,” says Patrick. “I’ve loved watching other kids get involved, and I love seeing their faces as they surf with Ricochet. I know that she is changing their lives as much as she changed mine.”
Ricochet has also been busy these last ten years, going from service dog to SURFice dog®, providing canine-assisted surfing and other activities to empower, enhance and improve the quality of life for individuals with physical, cognitive or emotional disabilities.She is a registered and certified goal-directed therapy dog, and holds the highest AKC title of Therapy Dog Distinguished.
Ricochet was also one of the original southern California surfing dogs that started on the competition circuit. She typically won first, second or third place until she stopped competing to focus exclusively on her canine-assisted surfing. She has surfed with hundreds of kids with special needs, people with disabilities, wounded warriors and veterans with PTSD and is affiliated with scores of organizations, raising more than half a million dollars for over 250 human & animal causes.
She has also published a book, was cast in an IMAX movie and was named ASPCA Dog of the Year, receiving the American Humane Association Hero Dog Award and the prestigious AKC Award for Canine Excellence.
“For the past decade, Ricochet has balanced boards... and lives. She’s offered individuals something no one else could – her incredible gift of healing, no matter the person’s challenge, disability or angst,” said Fridono. “As I look ahead, I see her legacy as one that continues through every dog on this planet. I have learned an exponential amount about the healing power of dogs through Ricochet, and it’s my privilege to share it with other dog owners so they can unleash their dog’s healing power too.”