Friday, July 1, 2011

A Dog Named Ricochet

You might have already heard of Ricochet because she was in a video that tons of people saw on YouTube.  Ricochet is a golden retriever, and she was born on January 25, 2008 in a service dog program called Puppy Prodigies.  There were 10 puppies in her litter, and she was puppy number 9.  When Ricochet was only 13 days old, she already started her training!  She learned to do all sorts of useful things, like open doors and turn on lights and pick up things for people who need help doing this.  And when she was 8 weeks old, Ricochet also started learning to surf, by balancing on a surfboard in a wading pool.

Ricochet grew and grew, and she got lots of training, but there was a problem, which was that she really, really liked to chase birds and squirrels and all kinds of critters like that.  Of course, this is perfectly normal dog behavior, and I don't think there is anything wrong with it, personally.  But if a dog is a service dog, that dog is supposed to stay focused on helping its person, instead of getting distracted and running off after rabbits or whatever.

So Ricochet's trainer got very sad because she saw that Ricochet couldn't really be a good service dog.  But about this same time, Ricochet got invited to compete in a doggy surfing event.  So she went there and competed, and she won 3rd place.  After that, the people at Puppy Prodigies decided maybe Ricochet could be a SURFice dog instead of a service dog.

This was a whole new kind of program that hadn't been done before, but Ricochet was the perfect dog to do it because she had all that service-dog training, plus she was also good at surfing.  So she started working with disabled people to help them go surfing.  And also she did a whole bunch of fundraising for lots of different causes.

One of Ricochet's first causes that she helped with was raising money for a boy named Patrick Ivison.  Patrick is 15 years old, and he has been using a wheelchair most of his life.  When he was only 14 months old, he and his mom were walking behind a parked car, and the driver backed over Patrick and he became a quadriplegic.  Then when Patrick was 10, he started doing a special kind of therapy that could eventually help him walk.  This therapy has already made it so that Patrick can pick things up with his hands, which he couldn't do before.

But the therapy is really expensive, like $30,000 a year, and Ricochet is helping raise the money that Patrick needs to get the therapy.  Also Patrick and Ricochet go surfing together, riding on the same surfboard, and they have lots of fun doing that.

Ricochet has her very own website, where you can read all about her and all the causes she has helped with.  Plus you can see several videos of her surfing with Patrick and other people.  Ricochet has won a ton of awards, which you can read about on her site.  Some of the causes she has helped raise money for are:  canine cancer, breast cancer, arthritis, autism, spinal cord injuries, animal rescue, and several groups that help disabled people get to go surfing.

Anyway, Ricochet's story is very heartwarming and inspiring.  But I have to tell you that I don't think there is enough inspiration in the whole wide world to ever get me on a surfboard.  There is way too much chance of getting wet out there in the ocean!

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