We’ve done our fair share of jumping in the waves and playing by the water this summer, but for children with spinal suscular strophy (SMA) and their families, spending a day at the beach is a complicated affair. SMA, a genetic disorder, causes people to lose control of their muscles, meaning that eventually they become unable to walk, swallow, or even breathe. Surfing might seem totally out of the question, but thanks to a team effort from a pharmaceutical company, Cure SMA, Puppy Prodigies, and a unique and totally awesome surfboard riding therapy dog named Ricochet, several kids with SMA recently had the opportunity to ride the waves. Ricochet, who is the only SURFice dog in the world, has worked with people with a variety of disabilities as well as veterans with PTSD. She is also a level II Reiki practitioner (seriously), who intuitively bonds and gives comfort generously when needed. Read on for more about this amazing dog and the SMA event that is bringing back our faith in human and canine goodness.
For many of the kids who participated in the event with Ricochet, getting to surf (especially with a dog in front!) was a dream come true. Ricochet bonded with the kids before even getting on the boards, helping to soothe their nerves and exuding a confidence and calm. The organizations and volunteers worked together to make adjustments and modifications for each child, since some are able to sit up on the surfboard and ride with a volunteer, and others needed a special chair board and additional help. Bailey, who has a breathing tube that cannot get wet, had probably the most special ride of the day. A squad of helpers (including Bailey’s mom), lifted Bailey up and down with the waves, giving her the sensation of riding them while keeping her safe. Ricochet was on hand (er… paw) to give the kids support as they glided through the water as well as when it was time to relax in the sand.
One of our favorite parts of Ricochet’s story is that she originally trained to be a service dog. Fate (and a little too much interest in birds) intervened so Ricochet’s career path needed a change. The people at Puppy Prodigies decided to use Ricochet’s amazing sense of balance on a surfboard to create a totally new therapy job as a SURFice dog. Check out Ricochet’s adventures and other philanthropic efforts on her very own (naturally) Facebook page.
All images © Killer Surf Pix