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Richochet: The dog who surfs for charity

A service dog dropout, Rip Curl Ricki, aka Richochet, is helping humanity nevertheless.

Richochet was born to be a service dog, bred and raised by Puppy Prodigies, a non-profit organization that trains freshly born pups who normally go on, after additional training, to be service dogs.

But, after 18 months of training, Richochet, a golden retriever, failed to qualify — primarily because she couldn’t be broken of her habit of chasing birds

“I still wanted her to do something meaningful with her life,” her owner, Judy Fridono says.

Fridono, and Richochet, found that something — in surfing.

Ricochet’s  journey from service dog training to surfing is documented in the video above. Richochet now enters surfing competitions to raise money for those in need — most recently for quadriplegic surfer, Patrick Ivison.

Here’s her website. Here’s her Facebook page.


Comment from Anne’n’Spencer
Time December 9, 2009 at 4:13 pm

Richochet’s story is certainly inspiring, but as usual, I have questions. I’m wonderng about the wisdom of training puppies from birth. Mother dogs have a lot to communicate to their puppies, and they generally get most of it done in the first six weeks or so. Aside from a little low-key interaction under Mom’s watchful eye (to begin getting them socialized), puppies don’t need much from us humans. I’d especially wonder about trying to teach them human activities before their eyes are open. When my human children were small, I was urged to begin teaching them their letters during their first year of life. My stance was that they had a whole agenda of developmental tasks they needed to work on without adding any from outside. I suspect the same holds true for dogs.

Comment from Best Pet Stain Remover
Time December 14, 2009 at 7:21 pm

This is such a great story! I always wonder what happens to dogs that don’t make it through that rigorous training process.

Comment from Crystal
Time December 23, 2009 at 1:43 pm

LOVELY. It made my year to see this. It’s an inspiration to be yourself and let that gift help others whatever chance you get. Go Richochet.

Comment from Janie
Time February 25, 2010 at 12:20 am

I also question the validity of training dogs at such a young age. Frankly, there are a lot of differing opinions about this, and nothing conclusive. Sounds like a gimmick to me. Is it any surprise that no one has heard of Puppy Prodigies until they started surfing for charity? And what’s with dog surfing? I see those guys at the beach all the time – some dogs may like it, but most of them just seem to be performing. One of the articles about Ricochet said they give him cheez-wiz as a treat. No responsible dog owner in their right mind would give that to a dog. I won’t even give it to my kids. In this day and age, it’s amazing how people can distort things to what they want to see – a dog that’s been bribed to surf with cheese, a sob-story with a handicapped boy…these things make great for publicity. Perhaps that’s what it takes, though, to raise money. Just don’t insult the rest of us serious animal trainers who know that there are real dogs out there doing real jobs. And anyone trainer who is worth their certification would know that “bird chasing” instincts don’t just show up suddenly – this could have been identified and overcome, especially if you’re training at an early age. It speaks more to the trainer than the dog that this couldn’t be overcome. Switching to the latest novelty in dog sports like surfing to promote one’s dog is an unfortunate manipulation of people’s perceptions about service animals and the great work that they really do. Not to mention the real trainers who support them.

Comment from Janie
Time February 25, 2010 at 12:32 am

Dogs that don’t make it through legitimate service programs are adopted out through special programs. They make excellent house pets, and some have even gone on to become assistance dogs. SeeingEye.com and GuideDogs.com have excellent programs for these career change dogs.

Never in my career as a trainer have I heard of a service dog getting into surfing. This sounds like it’s more about the trainer’s benefit, not the dog’s. Service dogs that don’t make it through our program are treated with respect and given good homes as pets, not forced to perform like circus shows.