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Golden retriever
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Famous golden retriever Ricochet is leading virtual therapy sessions with frontline healthcare workers

Reap the benefits of canine therapy.

Anna Rahmanan
Written by
Anna Rahmanan

Dogs really are our best friends. Take Ricochet, a therapy dog part of Pawsitive Teams' Canine Inspired Community Reintegration program in San Diego, which operates in unison with the Naval Medical Center San Diego. Usually, the golden retriever works with a variety of people—from children with special needs to veterans with PTSD—to help in their healing process.

But, as the world deals with social distancing measures—which are, arguably, a source of additional stress and therapy-related needs—Ricochet has started offering FaceTime sessions with frontline medical workers.

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I've been finding it hard to be a therapy dog and not do something to help all those suffering emotionally from the covid-19 pandemic. But I have an idea! Check out the link in my bio called “virtual canine therapy”. * 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, I'm 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. * So, I’ve joined forces with @pawsitiveteams_sandiego and we’re offering virtual canine therapy! It's based on what many of you hear me bark about all the time... making eye contact with a dog releases the hormone oxytocin from the brain which reduces anxiety. * Are you, or someone you know feeling anxious, stressed, depressed, scared, overwhelmed or any other unsettling emotion during this Covid-19 pandemic? Or would you just like to look at some beautiful photos of me and Pawsitive Teams therapy dogs? Please click the link in my bio for our anxiety reducing virtual canine therapy slideshow! * I especially want to get this program in front of doctors, nurses, other healthcare workers, first responders, essential workers and anyone else who is stressed out. Can you please, please repost this? During this time of feeling helpless, the more we share, the more people we can reach and the more helpful we can feel. * If you have a moment, please leave a comment on how you feel viewing the slideshow. It’ll help us know if this idea works. * Thanks so much for your continued support. Please stay safe! * * #coronavirus #covid19 #doctors #nurses #healthcareworkers #firstresponders #essentialworkers #moralinjury #PTSD #stayhome #anxiety #depression #therapydog #therapydogsofinstagram #animalassistedtherapy #emotionalsupportdog #healing #healingpowerofdogs #humananimalbond #humananimalintervention #goldenretriever #goldensofinstagram #oceantherapy #adaptivesurfing #dogsurfing #surfdog #surfdogricochet #surfingdog #surftherapy #surftherapydog

A post shared by Surf Dog - Therapy Dog 🏄‍♀️👩‍🦼 (@surfdogricochet) on

"In every other crisis, therapy dogs are called upon to provide comfort and healing," Ricochet’s team said to NBC4 in San Diego. "But, due to social distancing and quarantine, animal-assisted therapy programs have been suspended."

If Ricochet looks familiar it's because she was one of the original surfing dogs who entered an official dog surfing competition when she was just 15 months old. Check out this video that went viral back when it was first released, featuring Ricochet surfing with Patrick Ivison, a quadriplegic:

The benefits of canine therapy—from simple eye contact to more physical approaches—have long been praised. Although folks are unable to meet Ricochet in person, the virtual sessions will undoubtedly provide at least some relief. According to studies, a mere look at a photo of a dog's eyes for 30 seconds to one minute will trigger the release of oxytocin, a calming hormone thought to reduce anxiety levels.

To schedule some time with the therapy dog, reach out to Judy Fridono, Ricochet's mom, at And if you need immediate soothing, make use of the slideshow that Ricochet's team has put together right here. Are you relaxed yet?

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