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Surfing therapy dog Ricochet offers virtual canine therapy during Covid-19 crisis

Surfing therapy dog Ricochet offers virtual canine therapy during Covid-19 crisis

Ricochet, a certified therapy dog and champion surf dog, is offering free virtual canine therapy and video conferencing sessions to "families who experienced the unfathomable reality of not being there when a loved one passed from covid-19, as well as frontline workers and school children affected by the coronavirus pandemic".

In every other crisis, therapy dogs are called upon to provide comfort and healing. But, due to social distancing and quarantine, animal assisted therapy programs have been suspended. "At a time when dogs could be truly valuable resources, we’re thinking outside the box in an effort to offer some form of canine therapy to the millions of people around the world who need it," said Ricochet's guardian Judy Fridono.

"Ricochet's virtual canine therapy program is multi-faceted," a statement reads. "First, there is a web page that has close-up photos of her eyes coupled with calming music. Hundreds of individuals who have visited the page have reported they felt a calm, connected state of being.

"Eye contact is one of the anxiety-reducing techniques that Ricochet uses in her face-to-face therapy dog sessions. Gazing into a dog’s eyes stimulates the release of oxytocin—a hormone associated with positive, happy feelings. Cultivating these moments allows for deep experiences of connection regardless of whether physical contact is made."

"Another facet of the program is video conferencing which uses apps such as Zoom, FaceTime and Skype. These sessions are offered to families who lost a loved one to covid-19, doctors, nurses, frontline workers and anyone else suffering a loss or feeling stressed and anxious.

"Ricochet provides a calm demeanor of comfort and support where a participants emotions can be safely released as they are spun into a cocoon of positive energy, healing and recovery.​

"The most recent facet added to the program is Paws on Learning activities with Ricochet. This facet is for children of all ages and also uses video conferencing. Kids can talk to Ricochet while doing activities like reading to her, coloring pictures of her, teaching her tricks, show & tell, boredom busting, Q&A's and more.

"Many kids know her from the IMAX film, Superpower Dogs that she's in. Although movie theaters are closed due to the pandemic, kids can still interact with Ricochet from the safety of their own home! They can watch the movie trailer, download the activities booklet and view a behind-the-scenes video.

To schedule a session, you can send an email to Judy Fridono at pawinspired@aol.com or, if time is limited, visit Ricochet's virtual canine therapy web page.

Alessandra Pacelli

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