Surfing Dog Makes Waves in Her Community by Empowering Children With Disabilities

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Surfing may be this pup's main hobby, but helping others is making waves in her community.

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Instead of becoming a service dog, Ricochet, the 8-year-old golden retriever, has been dubbed a SURF-ice dog.

She spends her days changing the lives of children with disabilities by taking them surfing around the beach.

"Kids with autism are never by themselves, so this gives them a sense of empowerment" her owner, Judy Fridono, told "I present to them that they're taking care of my dog in the water. Now they have this responsibility they've never had in their life."

Part of the magic is in Ricochet's power to gauge how to best help each surfing buddy: "She changes her surfing style based on the person's ability."

Fridono explained that when Ricochet surfs with kids who have physical disabilities, including cerebral palsy, she usually stands behind them and helps with balancing the board. When she surfs with physically able children, including kids with autism, she might stand on the front of the board so her partner can hold onto her for support.

In footage by Hooplaha, Ricochet can be seen holding the board sturdy on all four paws, as a volunteer lifts a child up behind the pup.

Ricochet's journey on the board all started when he was just 15 months old. She was taken out to surf with a quadriplegic teen, Patrick Ivison.

"At one point, Ricochet jumped off her own board and on to Patrick's," Fridono said. "I saw Ricochet come alive. She was so happy."

Despite having been in the middle of getting trained in becoming a service dog, Fridono, who works as a service dog trainer, said she realized Ricochet had her own way of helping children in need.

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Now, the pup is even expanding to making waves with veterans suffering from PTSD, and is even beginning to help children with disabilities teach each other to surf.

"It's healing for everyone," she said.

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