Category Archives: Surf Dog Ricochet

Help Surf Dog Ricochet Take a Bite out of Breast Cancer!

By Julia Williams

When I first wrote about Surf Dog Ricochet early last year, I knew she was incredibly special and destined to do great work during her lifetime. CANIDAE knew it too, because not long after that article ran, they honored Ricochet with a coveted spot in their Special Achievers program. CANIDAE created this sponsorship program as a way to support exemplary pets and their owners, and Ricochet and her amazing “Mom” Judy, certainly qualify.

What makes these two so extraordinary in my eyes is not that Ricochet can surf (which is admittedly very cool) and that Judy found a unique way to use her dog’s talent and pawsome personality to help others. It’s not even that Surf Dog Ricochet has become a famous fundraising “Super Dog” who supports a variety of worthwhile causes for humans and animals alike, or that Ricochet received the AKC Award for Canine Excellence last year, a national award given to only five dogs every year.

Don’t get me wrong. All of those are inspiring accomplishments, and Ricochet and Judy deserve to be commended for all of the wonderful work they do. But what makes these two so special in my eyes is something not everyone has – the right attitude. Despite the disappointments, setbacks and challenges they encounter, Surf Dog Ricochet and Judy display great courage, heart, hopefulness, and a positive CAN DO attitude unlike any I’ve ever seen. And they never miss an opportunity to turn a negative into a positive. Imagine what this world would be like, if everyone could embrace this philosophy!

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CANIDAE Sponsors Surf Dog & Donates to Pet Food Drive


By Julia Williams

Mere moments after I finished writing my last article on Teaching Your Dog to Surf, I learned that the most famous of all surfing canines has joined the ranks of the CANIDAE Special Achievers. I’m talking about Surf Dog Ricochet of course, the amazing canine who uses her remarkable surfing talent to raise money for charity. Surf Dog Ricochet is a perfect fit for the CANIDAE dog sponsorship program, which began in 2006 as a way to support extraordinary canines and their devoted owners.

The dogs selected for sponsorship must be good ambassadors in their chosen “vocation,” be it dog sports, search and rescue, service and therapy work, police work, or conformation. These dogs all eat CANIDAE food, naturally, and their good health and ability to excel at their jobs helps promote the many benefits of a premium-quality holistic pet food.

Surf Dog Ricochet was slated to be service dog but was released from the program because her interest in chasing birds could be a risk to a person with disabilities. Undaunted by this change in her life plan, Ricochet perfected her surfing techniques and discovered another way to help people. Ricochet’s inspirational story of how she went “From Service Dog to SURFice Dog” has touched millions of lives worldwide, and to date she’s raised over $30,000 for her charitable causes!

Surf Dog Ricochet eats the CANIDAE Grain Free All Life Stages formula which helps her stay healthy and strong. Previously, Ricochet was plagued by chronic ear infections, but since switching to CANIDAE she has been free of that problem. Because she is an extremely active canine, she needs a high quality food to maintain her energy, stamina, and performance.

Surf Dog Ricochet embodies all of the qualities CANIDAE looks for when choosing canines to sponsor. Ricochet and her human companion, Judy, live a lifestyle of helping others by “pawing it forward,” while raising awareness and funds for both human and animal causes.

Speaking of good causes, Judy recently asked CANIDAE if they’d be willing to help out the “Dog Days of Summer,” a drive to collect food and supplies for shelters all around the world. The Dog Days drive was organized by Ricochet’s friends at BlogPaws, an online resource for pet bloggers. BlogPaws was founded by three passionate pet lovers/bloggers who are dedicated to supporting rescues, shelters, and the people who work so hard to help homeless, abandoned and abused pets.

As many of you know, CANIDAE All Natural Pet Foods is a very generous company with a long history of charitable giving. They were happy to lend their support to this great cause for shelters, and donated 350 pounds of premium-quality CANIDAE dog food and FELIDAE cat food to the drive. Ricochet split her food donation between two shelters, the San Diego Humane Society and the Rancho Coastal Humane Society.

You can help BlogPaws and the Dogs Days food drive too, but only if you act quickly, as it ends on July 31st! For information on how to contribute to this worthwhile cause and help the homeless animals in your community, click here.

CANIDAE is proud to welcome the extraordinary Surf Dog Ricochet (aka Rip Curl Ricki) as the newest member of their Special Achievers team. If you haven’t seen the Surf Dog Ricochet video yet, you really should – because the touching story of how this beautiful young golden retriever found her true calling and is changing countless lives as a result is one that every pet lover should see.

Photos courtesy of Diane Edmonds and Judy Fridono

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

Tips for Teaching Your Dog to Surf


By Julia Williams

A few months ago I told you about a wonderful dog named Ricochet who not only surfs, but uses her extraordinary ability to “hang twenty” as a way to raise money for charity. Before I wrote that article, I didn’t even know dogs could surf. As it turns out, Ricochet might be the most famous surfing dog in the world but there are many other canines who also love to shred the waves. CANIDAE staffer Diane Matsuura’s young Lab Hailey, pictured here, is one of them. She recently competed in the Loews Coronado Resort 5th Annual Surf Dog Competition in Imperial Beach, California with 65 other four-legged surfers!

Surfing with a dog sounds like a lot of fun and makes me wish I had a canine companion. I’m positive my cats would not enjoy surfing. I did find a video of a surfing cat in Peru whose owner claims she loves being out on the surfboard. However, to me (and many others) it looks more like a terrified cat hanging on for dear life lest she fall off into the ocean. Yes, some cats actually do like water, but I’d bet the farm that none would enjoy surfing in the ocean. Most dogs love water and swimming though, and this guy obviously adopted the wrong pet.

Never mind. I’ll get down from my soap box now and get on with giving you some tips for teaching your dog to surf. I won’t provide a full-on canine surfing lesson because that’s better left to the pros, like Surf Dog Ricochet. She’s written an excellent beginner’s guide to doggie surfing with tons of helpful information, which you can read here. Surf Dog Ricochet’s website also has links to qualified instructors, surf dog clinics and upcoming competitions.

You don’t need a lot of expensive equipment to teach your dog to surf. You just need a surfboard, a doggie life vest, and a pool. Most people recommend a foam surfboard for dogs because it’s easier for them to grip. Small dogs should use a 6-foot board while larger breeds can handle 7 or 8-feet boards. Look for a dog’s life jacket with a handle on top, which will help you lift your pooch out of the water or back onto the board after the inevitable wipeout. If you don’t have access to a full-size pool, a small portable backyard pool will suffice, and small breeds can even use a kiddie pool.

Like any other canine sport, teaching a dog to surf requires time, patience and practice. The pre-water part of your surf dog training can be done indoors or out – basically any place you can set the board down. You want your dog to do three things: 1) form positive associations with the surfboard; 2) learn to get on the board themselves and be in the correct position, and 3) work on balance techniques.

For positive associations, some surf dog trainers feed the dog and give them belly rubs while on the board. You shouldn’t ever force your dog to get onto the board. But if and when they do, give them lots of praise and dog treats while they are still on the board. You want to reinforce the behavior of being ON the surfboard instead of getting off. The next step is to practice a “stay” command. Teach them to remain on the board until you give them a release command, so that once they’re in the water, they won’t try to jump off and swim back to you.

If your dog has never worn a life jacket, you should practice putting it on them and letting them wear it around the house. Once they’re comfortable with it, have them wear it for their surfing lessons. The last pre-water step is teaching your dog to balance on an unsteady board. Use pillows or cushions underneath the board to make it wobbly. When they master the dry land surf lessons, you can move on to a pool. Here, they learn to jump onto the board themselves, and you can push them around so they learn to balance on the board while it’s moving.

Once they’re comfortable being on the board in the pool, take your surfing lesson to a lake or bay where the water is calm. A perfect place for this step is somewhere that allows boating, which will create very small “practice waves” your dog can master before graduating to the ocean. Even if you don’t live near the ocean, lakes can still be a great way for your dog to have fun on a surfboard.

These tips are not intended to be a comprehensive guide to dog surfing. For that, please visit Surf Dog Ricochet’s website or enroll in a dog surfing school. And speaking of Ricochet, I have some exciting news to share with you about “Rip Curl Ricki” and CANIDAE in a day or two – stay tuned!

Read more articles by Julia Williams

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

Social Media Has Gone to the Dogs… and the Cats too!


By Julia Williams

Not so long ago, it used to be frowned upon for people to give human characteristics to animals, which is known as anthropomorphism (how’s that for an unwieldy word!). Those who were against it said things like “animals shouldn’t talk” and “animals can’t think or reason” etc.

My, how times have changed. This public disapproval of anthropomorphism seems to have faded into oblivion. I suppose it’s to be expected, given that the age we live in is so vastly different now, technologically speaking. The internet is firmly entrenched in the daily lives of everyone from teens to seniors. Most of us check email at least daily and visit many different websites and blogs every week. Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter have become the new gathering spot. Moreover, humans aren’t the only ones using social media to communicate – now there are countless dogs with blogs, and cats that tweet! Not only that, they are doing it with great success.

Consider these impressive numbers:

Surf Dog Ricochet, the inspirational canine who has raised over $20,000 surfing for charity, has nearly 5,700 Facebook fans. Surf Dog Ricochet also has her own website.

Nora the Piano Cat apparently tickles more than the ivories – she has more than 1500 Facebook fans and 1600+ Twitter followers. The Piano Cat also has her own website and blog, both of which “she” updates regularly.

● Charlene Butterbean is a surrogate mama cat to kittens fostered by Laurie Cinotto, aka, The Itty Bitty Kitty Committee. Ms. Butterbean (or “the Bean” as she is often called) has nearly 1,100 Facebook friends and the same number of Twitter followers.

Giant George, a blue Great Dane who is the world’s tallest dog according to Guinness World Records, has more than 40,000 Facebook fans.

Compare some of those numbers to the Facebook fans of world renowned writers such as Anne Rice (60,000) or J.K Rowling (58,000) and you can’t help but be impressed. Truly, the following these canines and felines have amassed in just a few short years is a testament to the power that pets have to touch our hearts.

In addition to all of the Facebook pages and Twitter accounts purportedly manned by canines and felines, there are many other technological pet inventions that indicate we are in a new era. Take for example, the Twitter-enabled dog collar from Mattel called Puppy Tweets. When the collar’s tiny device detects barking or movement, it randomly posts one of 500 phrases to the dog’s Twitter page. According to the Huffington Post, there’s also an intriguing new app from Japan called BowLingual, which supposedly analyzes your dog’s bark and translates it into one of six emotions. It syncs the phrase, which can then be tweeted through your dog’s Twitter account.

Last year, the aforementioned Charlene Butterbean wore a “Cat Cam,” a collar with a tiny camera attached that automatically snapped photos every 15 minutes. The pictures were then uploaded to the IBKC blog so readers could log on to see what the Bean was doing throughout the day – mostly sleeping, eating and kitten wrangling (but please don’t ask me how I know that).

The “Shiba Inu Puppy Cam” became an internet phenomenon in 2009. This website featured a live-streamed webcam focused on six adorable newborn Shiba Inu pups doing all of the things that puppies normally do. I confess to getting my daily virtual puppy fix, although I usually only watched for a few minutes because it seemed like every time I tuned in the puppies were asleep. Those puppies eventually went to their forever homes, and now there is a new Shiba Inu Puppy Cam with five more fluffballs the public can fawn over via their computer monitor.

Should dogs blog? And what of tweeting cats? Should people put their puppies on a virtual display for the world to view whenever they want? I don’t see why not. If one chooses to pretend that a dog can type and is sending them a message on Facebook, that’s their business. If one considers it cool to get an email from a cat (ahem…that would be me), why should anyone else care? There’s no harm done to the animals, who are probably asleep in a corner of the room while their designated “PR agent” types away to their adoring fans. Intelligent people do realize that dogs and cats can’t type. Right?

Read more articles by Julia Williams

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

Surf Dog Ricochet: Changing Lives, One Wave at a Time


By Julia Williams

Some of you have undoubtedly heard about Surf Dog Ricochet, and you may have watched the incredibly moving YouTube video about her, “From Service Dog to SURFice dog: Turning disappointment into a joyful new direction.” If you have, then you know what an amazing canine Ricochet is. If you haven’t seen the Surf Dog Ricochet video, then I hope this article inspires you to do so— because the story of how this beautiful young golden retriever found her true calling and is changing countless lives as a result, is one that every pet lover should see.

Two-year-old Ricochet’s original path in life was to be part of the Puppy Prodigies Neo-Natal & Early Learning Program, as a service dog for a disabled person as well as a service dog breeder. Ricochet’s training began when she was just a few days old, before her eyes were even open. She learned quickly and showed great promise for becoming a service dog. But as she grew, so did her interest in chasing birds. Because this could be unsafe for a person with a disability, Ricochet had to be released from the service dog program.

Her people were terribly disappointed, but rather than dwell on what she couldn’t do, they chose to focus on what she could do, which was surf. You see, at 8 weeks of age, in addition to her service dog training, Ricochet had begun learning to surf on a boogie board in a kiddie pool. Although her surf dog training was begun just for fun, Ricochet displayed a remarkable natural talent for it. Moreover, she really seemed to love it.

Ricochet’s surf training progressed and before long she was “hanging 20” in the ocean, competing in (and eventually winning) Surf Dog Competitions. So Puppy Prodigies created a brand new job for Ricochet, as a ‘Surfin’ for Paws-abilities’ SURFice dog who would raise awareness and funds for charitable causes. And the rest is history, as the saying goes. In just seven short months, Ricochet has raised more than $20,000 for charitable causes!

Her first fundraising endeavor was last August, for 15 year old quadriplegic surfer Patrick Ivison. Surf Dog Ricochet raised $10,000 to help pay his medical bills, and one of her sponsors awarded Patrick a grant to fund three more years of physical therapy. Then in December, Ricochet began a new fundraiser: a Surfin’ Santa Paws toy drive. About the same time, the inspirational SURFice Dog video went viral, which spurred an influx of donations from all over the world. As a result, Ricochet was able to provide toys for 650 children in hospitals and domestic violence shelters.

Continued donations from the video have allowed Ricochet to fund therapies for six year old Ian McFarland, who suffered a traumatic brain injury in a car accident that claimed the lives of his parents. Additionally, most of the surfing competitions Ricochet enters are fundraisers for animal charities. So besides having fun and competing, the “Little SurFUR Girl” (as she is sometimes called) is also making a difference in the lives of her four-legged cousins. When she’s not surfing or fundraising, Ricochet is involved in goal assisted therapy work with children through Pawsitive Teams.

I’m a firm believer in the old adages, “Everything happens for a reason,” and “When one door closes, another one opens.” I’ve seen enough examples firsthand that I don’t doubt this is exactly how the universe works. And now, the story of Surf Dog Ricochet is yet another fine illustration of these principles. Instead of greatly changing one disabled individual’s life by becoming their assistance dog, Surf Dog Ricochet is changing the lives of thousands… and potentially millions.

If you’d like to know more about Surf Dog Ricochet, you can visit her website, become her fan on Facebook, and even follow her on Twitter. And if you want to try teaching your own canine companion to hang 20, Ricochet offers some great beginner doggie surf training tips here.

There are two lines in the inspirational YouTube video on Surf Dog Ricochet that I just love: “When I let go of who I wanted her to be and just let her ‘be’ she completely flourished. And I reveled in knowing she is perfect, just the way she is.” She sure is. The video features the Taylor Hicks song, Do I Make You Proud. I just want to end this by saying “Yes Ricochet, you do!”

Photo courtesy of Diane Edmonds

Read more articles by Julia Williams

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.