SAN DIEGO – A local veteran with PTSD is getting a service dog to help him get a new lease on life.
7-month-old Balboa is still in training, and he’s learning all his skills from not just a human trainer, but also from a famous dog around town, Ricochet.
You may have seen 13-year-old Ricochet out surfing or maybe even in the movies.
“She surfs with kids that have disabilities,” said Judy Fridono, guardian of Ricochet and Founder of the non-profit Puppy Prodigies.
Ricochet is also a therapy dog and has worked with all kinds of people, including 10-year marine veteran Persons Griffith, who goes by “Griff.”
“With my challenges, I just didn’t think in a million years a dog was going to be able to help me work through some of that,” Griff said.
But that’s exactly what happened. Griff co-stared in the movie “Superpower Dogs” with Ricochet, who helped him work through his once crippling PTSD and anxiety.
“Took the leash and we didn’t even make it past the meeting space and Ricochet like threw herself on the ground and Judy asked me ‘are you doing okay,’ and for whoever reason in that moment at that time I just couldn’t do it anymore and so I had a breakthrough,” he said. “So, I just broke down and told her ‘no, I’m not okay I’m really not’ and that was the first time in years that I had a genuine connection with another person.”
And now Ricochet is giving Griff another gift, Balboa, who she’s mentoring as a service dog.
Ricochet and Judy are training Balboa to sense when Griff is anxious and provide support, also to turn on a light switch before Griff enters a room, and to be on high alert of Griff’s surroundings so he doesn’t have to, which is an awareness he struggles to turn off with PTSD.
“It’ll give me a sense of comfort and confidence to stay mindful instead of being worried about everything else around me,” Griff said.