In July 2008 life changed in an instant for little Ian McFarland. He was in a devastating car accident that claimed the life of his parents, and in the end, left him with a life-altering brain injury.
Ian used to love riding the waves with his dad, but the thrill of getting into the water soon turned into a real fear for him after the car crash - until he met Ricochet.
The night before their first surf session off the coast of California, Ian was “super” excited, his aunt, Melissa Coleman, said.
"Any fears that he had were replaced with excitement,” she said. “I seriously cried as he boomed toward the water.”
Since their first surf session, Ian and Ricochet have formed an unbreakable bond. Not only do they surf together, Ricochet also helps raise money for Ian’s physical and emotional therapy through various fundraisers.
This past July, Ian was presented with a check for $7,500 to help pay for his therapy.
“Ricochet is my good buddy and my good friend,” Ian told producers of the documentary, Going the Distance: Journeys of Recovery. “Surfing with Ricochet is fun and it’s exciting.”
This photo was taken after a surf session with Ian and Patrick Ivison.
Patrick, who has been a quadriplegic since the age of 10 months when he was hit by a car, was one of the first people to surf with Ricochet.
“Ricochet jumped on Patrick’s board and we were like ‘OK, she wants to surf with him,’” Judy Fridono, Ricochet's owner, said. “Ever since then, she’s been tandem surfing with Patrick and others.”
Patrick and Ricochet catch a good wave off the coast of San Diego.
"What we are looking to do is raise more awareness and touch more people to help them understand that just because you have a disability doesn't mean you can't be active," Ricochet's guardian, Judy Fridono, told FoxNews.com.
Since Patrick and Ricochet started tandem surfing together, they have raised thousands of dollars to help pay for Patrick's physical therapy.
And overall, Ricochet has raised more than $50,000 for different causes, which have benefited both people and animals.
Ricochet and her guardian, Judy Fridono, share a tender moment.
As a pup, Ricochet was enrolled in Fridono’s program called Puppy Prodigies and was being groomed to be a service dog.
But those big plans took an unexpected turn when Fridono realized Ricochet loved to chase birds and other critters.
“We couldn’t take the risk that she would want to run away while she was with a disabled person,” Fridono told FoxNews.com. “It was our responsibility to release her from the program.”
At the time, Fridono was devastated, until she realized Ricochet had a very unique gift of her own.
“Part of the Puppy Prodigies program is coordination and she showed really good balance,” Fridono said. “We entered her in a surf dog competition last June and she came in third place. When I realized she could surf, I said to myself, ‘OK, well maybe we could do something meaningful with her surfing.’”
And that’s exactly what Fridono has been doing. A month after that contest, Ricochet, who Fridono affectionately calls a SURFice dog, started surfing with Patrick.
Ricochet is getting ready to surf with amputee surfer, Jo.
The Association of Amputee Surfers loves Ricochet so much and the work that she does - they have made her an ambassador.
Everyone needs a good support system - and lucky for Ricochet - she has a very supportive "sister" named Rina, who also loves playing in the ocean.
“Part of the Puppy Prodigies program is coordination and she showed really good balance,” Fridono said. “We entered her in a surf dog competition last June and she came in third place."
And Ricochet has been making waves ever since!
In September, Ricochet was honored with the 2010 American Kennel Club Humane Fund Award for Canine Excellence in the category of Exemplary Companion Dog. The national honor, which will formally be presented in December, is only given to five dogs each year.
“She’s turned into something more incredible than I’ve ever imagined,” Fridono said with emotion. “She’s my dog, but she belongs to the world, and I’m just here to help her do whatever she needs to do to help the world.”
Ricochet is a spunky 2-year-old Golden Retriever who has a very unique gift – she loves to surf! And she’s using her talent to touch the lives of people from all over. Take a look…