A special golden retriever, with a unique talent, recently gave a severely disabled three-year-old girl an unforgettable day in San Diego, California. Ricochet, a “SURFice” dog, has surfed with many individuals with disabilities in the past, but surfing with little Bailey was a first – Bailey has Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), a disease that robs people of physical strength by affecting the motor nerve cells in the spinal cord.
Last weekend, for a few glorious moments, Bailey was able to focus on something fun, rather than the disease which robs people of their ability to eat, walk and even breathe. Bailey was one of several children with SMA who took part in the special surf session with Ricochet and Cure SMA.
According to a press release, many of the children participating in the event were unable to hold their heads up, so a special bath chair was attached to the surfboard to keep the kids comfortable, and safe. A team of skilled volunteers were on hand to ensure that all participants were in no danger from the thrilling surf-dog water experience.
Specially trained volunteers were on hand to provide added support for children with a trachaestomy – it was critical that these children did not get water on their neck (which could have caused aspirate pneumonia). The volunteers kept the surfboard in shallow water and lifted the board, including the child and Ricochet, each time that a wave rolled in to shore.
The weekend event provided these special children, and their parents, with the ability enjoy something that was not thought to be possible…the chance to leave a stroller full of gear behind in lieu of a surfboard, a soggy surfing dog, and plenty of smiles.
The non-profit organization, Puppy Prodigies, commented on those involved in making this special event possible:
Puppy Prodigies is blessed with volunteer water men and women who are very highly skilled, trained and experienced in surfing, dog handling, and the disabled community. Couple that with an Executive Director who has a degree in service dog training, plus a dog who has extensive training as a service dog, and you have a team that prides themselves on high standards. Our number one priority is safety and we abide by all the rules, regulations and laws governing the unique work we do. Our insurance covers Ricochet, those she surfs with, and our volunteers. It is because of these practices that we are able to provide these surf sessions with the utmost conviction.
Thank you to Cure SMA, Ionis Pharmaceuticals, and especially the parents for trusting us with your children.
Killer Surf Pix