Paperback, 312 pages
Published May 5th, 2015 by Hci (first published May 6th, 2014
Months ago (I’m too embarrassed to tell you when exactly), Judy sent me a physical (!) copy of her book. It was meant for taking it with me to the beach this summer, yet with my father’s illness and my personal shitefest going on, I never made it to a beach. Luckily, my husband bought a saltwater + heating system for our modest pool, and so, in the midst of a heatwave, I managed to finally read this last week with the proper atmosphere* around me. And since it’s officially still summer here today, I’m not too late with telling you all about this book!
* I’m making it sound like this can only be read during summer which is obviously not the case ;).
“Ride the wave of hope with Ricochet the only SURFice dog in the world who chose her own purpose! She surfs with children with special needs, people with disabilities, wounded warriors, and veterans with PTSD as an assistive aid and intuitive muse, healing hearts and souls on every wave.
This tears-to-triumph story takes readers behind the TV and video sensation and shares the true journey that went from promise to disappointment before ultimately finding life’s purpose. The gorgeous golden retriever Ricochet seemed destined to be a service dog from the moment she was born. She approached her training with boundless energy and surpassed every other dog in her Puppy Prodigy training class. Unfortunately, her love for chasing birds could prove dangerous, for those she would assist. Fifteen months into her training, Ricochet was released, leaving a frustrated owner and a dog without a direction. Yet through a twist of fate, Judy realized that flunking out of school wasn’t the end of the world and in fact, could be the beginning of a new one. Once Judy learned to let go and let Ricochet be who she really was, they found her true calling as a SURFice dog.
Ricochet’s story is one of synchronicity, our interconnectedness, and opening ourselves to life’s ‘paws’ibilities. Embracing her true calling, Ricochet began to help others, including those with traumatic brain injuries, post-traumatic stress, and physical disabilities, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for charitable causes and inspiring people to believe in themselves. Ricochet does more than steady the board: she offers hope, comfort, healing, and a reason to keep fighting.
What gives this story such extraordinary potential to become a publishing sensation? Ricochet is the only SURFice dog in the world, there is no other story quite like it!“
This is one tough book to review as a book. And by that, I mean I’d have to look at the writing style, the ‘story’ and whatnot, and then give it a rating accordingly. However, I can’t and won’t do that on my blog because this isn’t just a book. It’s the story of an amazing dog, amazing people, and how there’s no such thing as coincidence. You just can’t attach a rating to that! So instead, let me try and get you acquainted with Judy and Ricochet. Starting off with this YouTube video which says so much more than I will ever be able to express in words.
The book tells us the ‘complete’ journey of Judy and Ricochet so far. It starts with Judy’s troubled adolescence, the loss of her loved ones, illnesses…basically a whole lot of suffering. And then she decides to do something amazing: sign up for training a service dog.
Now here’s a bit of a personal story for ya (from me, Anne *waves*). We got our dog when he was 1.5 years old and had already gone through 8 owners before us. Sure, he had some issues we needed to work on together, but nothing major which would explain his abundance of previous owners. No dog deserves to go through something like that, and it made him very insecure about pretty much everything. The first time we went on a stay over trip at my in-laws, we packed up his stuff and put it in the car. The poor wee thing was shaking in a corner of the house with his tail between his legs, thinking he’d be shipped off to yet another new family.
When we decided he needed training to get his confidence back and for us to build a better bond with him, we searched for trainers in our area. The first two we went to made me feel SO uncomfortable. Choking collars, yelling and punishing seemed to be the way to get your dog to obey. I have never hurt any of my animals intentionally, so this was not the way to go.
We watched a lot of Ceasar Milano during the first month as well because hey, he’s the expert right?! I didn’t want to admit it right away but watching him work with those dogs also made me feel very uncomfortable. It’s like turning them into mindless zombies by using intimidation. Now it’s all about reenacting the pack life and being the alpha dog but neither my husband nor I wanted that. A dog should be a companion, not a docile creature who never misbehaves because he’s terrified of you. It’s how I stumbled upon positive reinforcement, Victoria Stillwell, and a small local training group who used a clicker instead of a torturing collar. It was a wonderful experience and a way better fit with how we want to interact with animals. And it worked (would be hilarious if I said it didn’t work at all now eh)!
So when I read about Judy’s struggle with the dominant type of obedience training with her first service dog, Rina, I knew exactly what she was talking about. The fact that Rina was eventually released from the puppy training program because she was ‘broken’ just intensified this feeling. Reading about how she got back to being a happy dog again by using positive reinforcement made me a happy gal for sure. It’s how Ricochet was trained as well and you can see how much it influenced her by looking at her independent, lovable spirit.
The story of Ricochet is one of spirituality, of how everything and everyone is connected. It’s about how life is a sacred journey and whenever you’re wondering why you’ve had to endure so much struggle or heartache, it’s to get right to the point where you’re supposed to be; everything happens for a reason.
“If we go into a forest on a trail that’s already been cleared, it’s the one true sign we’re not on our own path. If you follow someone else’s entry, you’re on someone else’s path. To discover who we really are, we need to find out own path.”
In the book, we get to read about Ricochet’s encounters with people with disabilities, children with autism, veterans suffering from PTSD, and cancer patients (just to name a few). She managed to connect with them all instantly and make them break free of any sort of physical or mental barrier, if only just for the moment. I definitely shed a few tears here and there while reading about it, but also after reading up on what happened afterwards.
For instance, I saw that Caleb, a 15-year-old boy with brain cancer, and with the brightest most genuine smile I’ve ever seen, passed away shortly after the part where the book ends.
And then there’s sweet Rina, who passed away on Memorial Day, 2016. I bawled my eyes out when I heard it. This picture of her is currently entered in the Woof Pup contest HERE. It would mean the world to Judy if Rina wins this one.
All that rests me to say about this book now is that if you’re a dog lover, or want to read an inspiring and sometimes heartbreaking pawtobiography, you should definitely dive into the story of Ricochet. It sometimes got a little too spiritual for me and during the end of the book, there was a lot of repetitiveness going on, but still, this was an amazing journey. A percent of book sales will go to Ricochet’s causes fund to help humans and animals in need.
Now with all this seriousness, I need to add my signature by sharing this final quote.
“I smiled as I watched him hand her a piece of bratwurst, which she happily gobbled.”
You can find a lot more on Ricochet and Judy on their:
I’m a fan!
A massive thank you and high paw to Judy Fridono for sending me a copy all the way from the US!
Links to the book: