Therapy surf dog takes final ride on the waves
(CNN) - It’s the final “surf’s up” for a southern California therapy dog.
For 13 years, Ricochet the golden retriever has assisted special needs children and wounded veterans with surfing. But now, she’s hanging up her surfboard after suffering her own health challenges.
She’s now over 14 years old and was recently diagnosed with kidney disease, a mass on her liver and arthritis in her spine.
Ricochet took her final ride at La Jolla Shores, helping Purple Heart recipient Jose Martinez ride the waves. Martinez lost both legs and one arm after stepping on a bomb in Afghanistan.
Ricochet helped Martinez in his recovery by getting him back in the ocean.
“She’s getting a lot older now, so unfortunately she has not been wanting to surf a lot more like she used to,” Martinez said.
Ricochet has a rich history of helping humans in need. Her very first assisted surf happened in 2009 when she counterbalanced the surfboard for a 14-year-old boy with a spinal cord injury.
But now in 2022, she’s riding the final wave with Martinez, who was told he would be in a wheelchair for the rest of his life.
“For me to be able to help out the dog that helped me kick-start my surfing career and my surfing life, it is just as if I am filling her cup up as much as she filled mine up,” Martinez said.
Ricochet helped Martinez achieve his number-one ranking in the International Surf Association’s prone assist division. He now has a dream to compete in the 2028 Paralympic Games in Los Angeles.
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