San Diego Surf Dog Ricochet dies at 15

Ricochet the Surf Dog walks along the beach with her guardian, Judy Fridono. Photo provided by Judy Fridono

By SDCN Editor

San Diego, CA–Surf Dog Ricochet, the legendary first-ever canine-assisted surf therapy dog and certified goal-directed therapy dog has made the journey to Rainbow Bridge. She was 15 years old.

Ricochet was diagnosed with liver cancer in August of 2022 but wasn’t showing symptoms until Friday afternoon when Judy Fridono, her guardian noticed Ricochet was panting very hard and shivering.

Ricochet was taken to the Emergency Room at Veterinary Specialty Hospital in North County. The doctors did an ultrasound which revealed a rupture in her liver mass/cancer which caused inflammation and pain in her organs, fluid in her stomach, and gas in her liver. The aspirate showed a lot of bacteria which caused sepsis. Sepsis is ruthless and continues to get worse until the organs shut down.

The sepsis came on so fast and fortunately, she didn’t have to suffer through it because, around 10 p.m. last night, Fridono let her go.

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

Reflecting on her impact that spans 15 years, Ricochet’s accomplishments are many. She became the first-ever canine-assisted surf therapy dog in 2009 when she jumped on the board of a 15-year-old boy with a spinal cord injury and instinctively balanced it.

A video of the surf session went viral and has over 6.6 million views because it brings most people to tears. Catching that first wave with Patrick launched her life purpose.

She started on the ground floor of adaptive surfing and had been involved in the movement ever since. She surfed with kids with special needs, wounded warriors, adaptive surfers, a goat, pro surfers, and more.

But her greatest triumph was working as a goal-directed therapy dog for Pawsitive Teams and the Naval Medical Center San Diego. She was committed to changing and saving the lives of service members and veterans with PTSD, trauma, anxiety, and other emotional challenges.

She was extremely intuitive and could find the one person who needed healing in a room full of hundreds. She also made a difference through her healing abilities and awareness raising of many causes including kids with special needs, people with different abilities, wounded warriors, military with PTSD, ill or injured service members, families of the fallen, individuals facing challenging life circumstances, crisis situations, and homeless animals.

Ricochet’s other accomplishments include raising $1 million dollars for charity and 1 million bowls of food for homeless animals. She starred in an IMAX film called Superpower Dogs, was featured in a book called “Ricochet: Riding a Wave of Hope with the Dog Who Inspires Millions” and was included in 20 other books. She was featured in scores of TV shows and hundreds of news media outlets.

She also won many awards such as an American Humane Association Hero Dog Award, ASPCA’s Dog of The Year, The American Red Cross Hero award, the AKC’s Award For Canine Excellence, and many more. She was popular on social media with 268K followers on Facebook and 141K on Instagram.

Ricochet’s legacy will live on through the sponsorship of Jose Martinez, an army veteran, and parasurfer, as well as Team USA adaptive surfers and other adaptive surfing organizations.

The pups who have become surf therapy dogs after being inspired by Ricochet will continue in her paw steps. And Fridono will teach other therapy dog teams everything she learned from Ricochet regarding the healing power of dogs.

Thanks to Ricochet’s supporters she has been able to make a difference in the landscape of various organizations and people’s lives.

“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.”

To view Ricochet’s community service, visit



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