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San Diego Union-Tribune

Ricochet, San Diego's beloved surfing therapy dog, dies at 15

By Natallie Rocha,


Ricochet , San Diego’s favorite surfing therapy dog, has caught her final wave.

The 15-year-old Golden Retriever — a pioneer of canine-assisted surf therapy who helped countless veterans and kids — passed away on Friday, her owner Judy Fridono said Saturday. Ricochet was diagnosed with liver cancer in August but began experiencing painful symptoms on Friday.

“I made a promise to Ricochet a long time ago that I wouldn’t let her suffer,” Fridono said in an announcement. “She took her first breath in my hand when she was born … and she took her last breath in my hand yesterday.”

Ricochet was raised to be a service dog, but the energetic pup was more fond of chasing birds than assisting with household chores, Fridono said.

In 2009, the canine found her calling.

That was the year Ricochet got on a surfboard with local quadriplegic surfer Patrick Ivison. A viral video of the encounter got more than 6 million views on YouTube.

“That day she hopped on the board with Patrick, she was reborn," Fridono said in a 2012 interview with the Union-Tribune. "She kept running back to the water with her tail wagging like she could finally tell me, ‘This is what I want to do.’”

Throughout her life, the beloved dog touched the lives of kids with special needs, wounded service members and families of fallen veterans. Ricochet was known as an affectionate companion, a shameless belly-rub beggar and had an intuition for people who needed a cuddle, Fridono said.

Notably, the furry do-gooder helped raise $1 million for charity and the donation of more than 1 million bowls of food for homeless animals.

Ricochet also worked as a goal-directed therapy dog for Pawsitive Teams and the Naval Medical Center San Diego where she supported service members and veterans with PTSD, trauma, anxiety and other emotional challenges.

Her work garnered numerous awards, media attention and a loyal fan base on social media. The pup had more than 141,000 followers on Instagram and more than 270,000 on Facebook .

Ricochet’s legacy will live on through the sponsorship of Jose Martinez, an army veteran and parasurfer and through donations to adaptive surfing organizations.

“People believe in Ricochet’s mission… she didn’t do it alone,” Fridono said. “Her supporters are an extension of her legacy and her roots in philanthropy and helping others heal through canine intervention and therapy.

Now that she’s gone, I don’t want people to be sad, I want them to celebrate and continue supporting what she started.”

This story originally appeared in San Diego Union-Tribune .

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