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Surf Dog ‘Hangs 10’ in Del Mar For Ocean Therapy Session

Evening Edition

Above: A canine celebrity of sorts celebrated New Year's Eve surfing Del Mar beach with some friends. One of them suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and the other is a lively 9-year-old who is autistic.

Aired 12/31/13 on KPBS News.

A champion surf dog helps military veterans and people with disabilities learn to surf, while also boosting morale and building confidence.

Military members and people with disabilities took to the water in Del Mar on New Year's Eve to tandem surf with champion surf dog Ricochet. Two surfers joining Ricochet were 9-year-old Gina Gill, who suffers from autism, and Randy Dexter, an Army veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Ricochet, a 5-year-old golden retriever, was trained as a puppy to surf and helps kids and people with disabilities learn how to surf themselves.

Tuesday was the third time Gill has surfed with Ricochet. Gill's mother, Gail, said tandem surfing with Ricochet helps her daughter socialize and builds her confidence.

"I think she has a lot of trouble with everything in life, socializing and school, things can be really hard for her. She's kind of a loner and it's hard to make friends," Gail Gill said. "I think this is building her confidence enormously."

Ricochet is part of Paw Inspired, an ocean healing group. She's won surfing contests and has even "thrown" out the first pitch at a Padres game and posed with the Laker Girls.

For Dexter, surfing with Ricochet gives him a chance to see the bright side of life.

"It's given me a new lease on life, so now my relationship with my wife and family has gotten so much better," Dexter said.

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