Ricochet is not a senior dog. She’s a surfer dog, who holds the awesome title of the “the only known dog in the world who surfs with special needs kids, and people with disabilities as an assistive aid.” But the story behind her wave riding offers a lesson that everyone who shares their life with a senior dog can benefit from.
Ricochet is a three-year old Golden Retriever who started out her life in San Diego training to become a service dog for someone with a disability. But as she grew older, Ricochet developed a unacceptable trait for a service dog (she loves chasing birds) so she had to leave the program.
Ricochet’s mom Judy Fridono, who’s also her trainer, was at a loss. It felt like suddenly her dog couldn’t do what she had excelled at her whole life and the future that had been mapped out for her in such detail was unclear. What were they going to do now? I’ll let Ricochet’s video take it from here …
While Ricochet’s activities are suited for a physically fit dog with some serious board skills, Fridono’s shift in expectations for her dog — which ultimately led to her new work — sounds like senior speak to me:
“But rather than focus on what she couldn’t do, I focused on what she COULD do.”
As your dog moves through his seniors years, he’s going to go through changes and as a result your lifestyle is going to need to shift. Fridono’s story is a reminder that most of the time changes are going to be harder on you than on your dog. So when they do come, take a cue from your dog: Look around for ways to adapt and then move forward.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with feeling sadness, disappointment or anger when change just barges in unexpectedly. (My reaction often includes deep sighs and several expletives.) It’s natural to feel disappointed but don’t be disappointed. Because your dog won’t be … unless he senses that you are.
When the time comes that your senior dog doesn’t want to — or can’t — go for the long walks that have been part of your daily routine together for so many years, take him on a short stroll instead. And then, how about a drive to the beach? Together, you can sit and watch the surfers go by!
Using her unique skills, Ricochet has raised more than $200,000 for people and animals in need. Yep, I’d say Ricochet’s in the right line of work! Find out more about Ricochet’s fundraising efforts at her site here and find Ricochet on Facebook here.