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‘Ricochet: Riding a Wave of Hope with the Dog Who Inspires Millions’

Published: Wednesday, July 2, 2014 11:00 a.m. CST

You were overjoyed when your dog learned to “SIT!”

“Down” came eventually, then “roll over” and “stay.” He can “shake” both paws, fetch, find and you’re working on other wicked-cool tricks that he’s eager to learn.

Your dog is a quick learner but can he raise money? Judy Fridono’s dog can, and in the new book “Ricochet: Riding a Wave of Hope with the Dog Who Inspires Millions” (with Kay Pfaltz), you’ll read more about this YouTube sensation.

Following a tumultuous childhood, a divorce and battling severe illness, Judy Fridono knew that she wanted to do something good for someone else. Since she’d always loved dogs, she decided to raise a puppy for a service-dog organization — but when the pup, Rina, was ready to be relinquished for training, Fridono was horrified.

She knew she shouldn’t have fallen in love with the dog, but she did — and sensitive Rina seemed to “shut down” from organizational training. In short order, she was turned away as a service dog and Fridono reclaimed her beloved golden-lab mix.

That experience led Fridono back to school, so that she could learn to teach service dogs in a gentler manner. To do it, she needed to begin training puppies almost from birth and, while the first litter was whelping, she “asked” the laboring mother dog for a female puppy with a white chest marking.

The next born was a female puppy with a white chest marking. Fridono kept the baby and named her Ricochet.

For a little over a year, Ricochet was a willing pupil. She did everything Fridono asked of her and even anticipated some of the actions that were expected. Fridono knew she had a special pooch, that Ricochet would be an excellent service dog one day.

But when Ricochet grew apathetic, Fridono became frustrated. Where did her obedient, smart girl go? What was the key to unlocking Ricochet’s enthusiasm again?

Fridono found the answer buried in sand and surf.

Today, 6-year-old Ricochet has raised thousands of dollars for various efforts. She has a slew of certifications behind her name and is “the only SURFice dog in the world,” working with the disabled, PTSD-sufferers, and veterans. That, alone, would’ve made a great tale — if it had stopped right there.

Instead, authors Judy Fridono and Kay Pfaltz included a lot of extraneous storytelling that can plod, pages of new-ageyness, and a good dose of canine grandiosity. Admittedly, I’m very guilty of anthropomorphism myself — but not like what’s here.

And yet … dog lovers who love nothing more than to compare pooches will revel in this book. Its great be-true-to-yourself message is good for all ages, doggy-parents will totally understand its sentimentality, it’ll warm kindred hearts, and even the most jaded reader couldn’t deny that this is a special pup with healing abilities.

Overall, I think this is a total dog-lover’s book but it has flaws that may send some people away. Still, if you want to be completely, 100-percent charmed by a real-life shaggy-dog story, then here’s a book for you.

Fetch “Ricochet,” then SIT.

Terri Schlichenmeyer is a book reviewer from West Salem, Wis. She may be contacted at bookwormsez@yahoo.com.

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