Surfing Dog Ricochet changes lives by helping Veterans and children with special needs including Autism

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Pups have extraordinary abilities that sometimes exceed even what humans can do. Did you know that many children with autism and other special needs need a therapy dog to help them cope and conquer hurdles within their everyday lives? Therapy dogs have been proven to increase the social skills of children with autism that allows them to interact more fully with those around them.

Not every family with a child that has special needs has the ability to get one of these therapy dogs and this is where Ricochet steps in. She’s a gorgeous 10 year old golden retriever who has some superpowers. Ricochet is a surfing champion, movie star, therapy dog and has a keen ability to help people cope with their surroundings so that they can thrive.

We were able to catch up with Ricochet and her hooman handler Judy tied to the premier of SuperPower Dogs. If you haven’t seen it, please get to an IMAX screen ASAP and you can thank us later. Our review here.

Ricochet’s work with Veterans and Special Needs children makes her truly a superhero. Her recent initiative is Waves of Empowerment program which pairs Veterans with PTSD and kids with special needs for a day. It is incredibly therapeutic for both.

We wanted to catch up with Ricochet and Judy to determine if the limelight has changed Ricochet at all and learn more about her ability to positively affect the humans around her.

WR: How did that feel to know that you were picked to be a part of an IMAX film and what was your reaction? 

R & J: I was excited. Most people know Ricochet because of her surfing. But, this was going to explore more than her surfing. It's more focused on her healing abilities. I'm passionate about educating others on how to interpret their dogs from a different point of view, so I thought this would be an excellent opportunity in which to raise awareness. 

WR: How does it feel to be involved in a movie like this? 

R&J: This film is in line with my philosophies. I believe dogs and humans have partnerships. I'm not one for being the alpha or making my dogs do things. I listen to what they're communicating and nurture their natural abilities. They have so much to teach us... but we have to listen!

WR: Is it correct, that you had planned when you got Ricochet as a puppy that she would work with someone with disabilities?

R&J: Yes, my plan for Ricochet was for her to be a service dog for an individual with a disability. She was a brilliant puppy and was turning lights on and opening doors, etc by the time she was 8 weeks old. But somewhere around 14 to 16 weeks, she shut down and didn't want to train. We struggled for a year because I knew what she was capable of. It wasn't until she jumped on the board of a 14 year boy named Patrick who is quadriplegic. She did that of her own volition and I got to experience her joy. She was finally able to show me what she's on this earth to do. She didn't want to help just one person, she wants to help millions. 

WR: How soon did you realize that Ricochet had this Superpower of being able to connect within people's emotions? 

J&R: I knew there was a superpower at play from the moment she was born. She took her first breath in my hands after I asked the mother dog to make the next pup a girl with a piece of white fur on her chest. And out popped Ricochet, a female with a patch of white fur on her chest. It took me a few years to realize she was able to make these deep connections. It started when we began her therapy dog work with Paws'itive Teams and the Naval Hospital San Diego's canine therapy.

At first I didn't know what she was doing, but as the years passed, I learned more and more on how to interpret her behavior. She has taught me so much, and I truly want to share my knowledge with everyone! Here is a video that shows her in action this past week. 

I have so many stories of her knowing things about people she's just met. She knows their triggers. I have no idea how she does it because the individual isn't usually consciously aware of their feelings or triggers in the environment. 

WR: How does it feel that Ricochet will be seen by millions of people at science centers for years across the world? 

J&R: I guess the first feeling that comes to mind is accomplishment. Because what Ricochet does is magical. But I believe all dogs have this power. I'm hoping those who watch the film will visit her website and her social media @surfdogricochet so they can learn more about her, but ultimately, more about their own dogs.

The main reason I chose to be involved with this film is to save lives. Ricochet works with service members and veterans with PTSD. The statistics of suicide among veterans with PTSD are staggering... every 65 minutes a veteran takes their life by suicide. I'm hoping this film will show them and their doctors, clinicians, families, etc that dogs can make a difference. My goal of Ricochet sequence in this film is to raise awareness and save lives. At the beginning, I didn't feel Ricochet fit into this film because all the other dogs do some kind of searching and save lives in that regard. But I finally realized that Ricochet does emotional rescue. She's the dog an individual would come to after Halo, Henry, Reef and Tony/Tipper saved them from physical danger. Ricochet would help them deal with the emotional trauma they suffered. 

The writer/director of SuperPower Dogs Daniel Ferguson even shared with Woof Republic that Ricochet is one of his favorite stories within the film due to her superpower ability to positively impact the humans around her. It is awe inspiring to see.

On National Autism Day, it is such an honor for Woof Republic to thank Judy and Ricochet for all of their incredible work and these YouTubes mostly make us cry happy tears because it is so inspiring to see people connecting and lives literally improving in front of your eyes. Thank you for all that you do!!