Surfing dog grants ultimate wish to terminally ill boy

UPDATE: Sadly, Caleb passed away six weeks after his session with Ricochet; the teenager wrote about his experience with Ricochet in a chapter of the book Ricochet: Riding a Wave of Hope With the Dog Who Inspires Millions.

Ricochet is a certified and registered therapy dog, and the only pooch who surfs with humans with disabilities. (Photo: Pray for Caleb)

When Florida 15-year-old Caleb Acosta got the call that his wish would be granted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation, he could hardly believe his ears.

Last summer, Caleb started to complain of debilitating headaches. In July 2013, when doctors broke the news that Caleb was suffering from brain cancer and had just six months to live, Caleb was frightened.

“Really scary,” he says of his diagnosis, “especially when they told me about the tumors in my back, in my spine and then losing all feeling in my legs and not being able to walk.”

Even though some days are difficult, Caleb says he tries to stay positive.

“It’s just…I don’t know. Just with God’s help, everything’s possible. So I know he has a plan for me,” Caleb tells 10News.com.

When Make-A-Wish visited a Florida hospital and approached Caleb to ask what his ultimate wish might be, Caleb had just one answer.

“I saw this cool dog on ESPN that surfs with children,” Caleb remembers, describing the dog to the Make-A-Wish representative.

The dog of Caleb’s dreams is none other than Ricochet, the world-famous surfing Golden Retriever. Ricochet is known for her award-winning skills on a board and for her charitable deeds, which include raising more than $300,000 for human and animal causes close to her heart and, as Caleb had seen on TV, surfing with children and adults with disabilities and other conditions. Ricochet initially began her journey as a service dog, but is now known better as a “SURFice dog,” her website explains.

“It really made me so happy to be like, oh that’s so cool, I want to surf,” Caleb tells NBC San Diego. “It really inspired me.”

Ricochet is based in Del Mar, California, so earlier this week, Caleb and his mother, Cathy Franco, boarded a flight from their home in Apopka, Florida to San Diego.

Finally, Wednesday morning, Caleb got the chance of a lifetime — to hang ten next to Ricochet. He arrived at Ricochet’s local dog beach dressed in a wet suit and left his wheelchair behind to join loyal Ricochet in the gentle waves.

“I started riding the wave and all of the pain [in my spine] left and it was so fun,” Caleb tells FOX 5 San Diego.

After six months of tests, hospital visits, treatments, medications, and pain, Caleb says it was great to let loose.

“It felt really good to be free, just to be not worrying about anything, having someone to be my balance,” Caleb says.

Caleb’s mother says she loved seeing her son get the chance to surf alongside Ricochet, that it is a day she and her family will never forget.

“It’s another beautiful day we can help fulfill his dreams, make him happy. Make him smile,” Cathy tells San Diego 6.

His special day with Ricochet inspired Caleb to keep fighting his disease.

“My goal right now is to eventually beat this cancer and tell everyone about it, how I beat this cancer,” he explains.

Ricochet’s owner, Judy Fridona, says she was grateful she and her dog could play even a small part in making Caleb smile.

“You’re making me cry,” Fridona said when talking with 10News.com about Caleb. “Obviously, we’re honored.”

As Caleb heads back to his home on the other side of the country today, he has nothing but high praise for Ricochet.

“Ricochet can control the board and helped so many people,” Caleb gushes. “I felt almost normal again. Finally.”

For more information on Ricochet the “SURFice dog,” or to see how you can help her continue her mission to help others, visit her Facebook page today. And if you would like to follow Caleb’s journey, visit his Facebook page at PrayforCaleb and follow the conversation on Twitter at #PrayforCaleb.

Sources: 10News.com, San Diego 6, FOX 5 San Diego, NBC San Diego