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One year ago I wrote a column about Judy Fridono, a North County certified professional dog trainer, and Ricochet, a golden retriever, canine surfer, and philanthropist at large.

Fridono acquired puppy Ricochet to train as a service dog for people with disabilities. But, young Ricochet washed out of the program due to her bird-chasing jones. Trainer has an epiphany, accepts dog for who she is, a natural surfer. Ricochet hooks up with Patrick Ivison, a 15-year-old quadriplegic boy. Ricochet enters dog-surfer events. Dog trainer uses teenage surfer dog to raise money for quadriplegic boy. Trainer and dog raise $10,000 for Patrick, which brings us to the video. Shots of Ricochet as a pup, shots of Ricochet growing up, shots of Patrick surfing, Ricochet surfing, Patrick and Ricochet tandem surfing. Patrick sitting in his wheelchair next to a blown up $10,000 check. Patrick struggling, fighting, learning to use a walker at his rehab clinic (go to YouTube, type “SURFice dog” in the search box). Fridono’s homemade video had 1,200,000 views when I first saw it. The count has topped 3,000,000 since then. Three million of anything will change your life.

But how? So, I called. We talked. Follows is some of what she said.

“The video continues to get attention, so we’ve tried to redirect that attention to other causes. People will contact us and say, ‘Hey, can you help with a walk for canine cancer?’ Or, ‘Can you help with a walk for breast cancer?’

“Sometimes the timing is just right. One little girl, she’s two and a half, was born nearly brain-dead. She wasn’t expected to live, but she survived. The family wanted to get a therapy pool for their home and they started fundraising for it. Ricochet got involved. We contacted Endless Pools, the maker of the pool the family wanted, and asked if they’d be willing to donate a pool. They didn’t do that, but they reduced their price by 60 percent.

“Another one was a wheelchair for a woman who kept falling out of hers and injuring herself. TiLite Wheelchairs donated a $5000 wheelchair. We’re doing more of that kind of thing, not necessarily raising money, but seeing if a company would be interested in helping, and then we help promote their business....

“I’m thankful Ricochet has 16,000 fans on Facebook. She has some amazing donors who are very supportive. Some people donate to every single fund-raiser she does....

“We send email as things happen, to keep people updated and thank them. For instance, there is Patrick from last year and then we helped another little boy with a brain injury. They both go to the same place for rehab therapy. We’ll make a video of that and send it out to show people, ‘This is what your donations do.’...

“It’s not all about surfing anymore. We do other things...I don’t know, it’s what comes across my desk and makes sense to do. Her primary role is still surfing and helping people with disabilities, but it’s branched out to breast cancer, canine cancer, arthritis, and other special-needs kids....

“She inspires people. There was one woman who was born without arms and became a fan of Ricochet’s Facebook page. She posted one day, saying, ‘Ricochet, do you think I could surf with no arms?’ She came out here from Arizona and was able to surf. It made a big difference in her life....

“Last year we did the [Surfin’ Santa Paws] toy drive and it was at the height of the first video going viral. I thought, Okay, let’s do something with that, so I put a link at the end of the video, saying, ‘Ricochet is having a toy drive if you want to donate to it.’ Donations came in from all over the world....

“We promote what Ricochet is doing. She’s a role model. We hope other people will be moved to action, maybe do things where they live....

“Ricochet has this appeal, I don’t know what to call it, but people want to help her. If she’s doing a fund-raiser, she has a goal. For Helen Woodward [Animal Center], she wanted to be the top fund-raising dog — ever — at the Surf Dog Surf-A-Thon. I think $3000 would have been the highest ever and we posted that. People wanted her to meet that goal and she did.

“I call it a phenomenon. It’s something I can’t explain, it’s just happening and I don’t need an explanation. I’m happy we can help other people through whatever it is that people...it’s hard to explain, but she has this power to capture people, like grab onto their hearts.”

Judy Fridono/Ricochet stats: Facebook.com/SurfDogRicochet. Twitter.com/SurfDogRicochet. 707-228-0679. [email protected]

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