Escondido dog helping kids with special needs swim

Posted at 7:43 PM, Oct 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-16 22:44:28-04

ESCONDIDO, Calif. (KGTV) - Swimming is an important skill for all children, but especially those with special needs.

According to the National Association of Autism, drowning is among the leading causes of death of individuals with autism.

A 1-year-old dog named Cori hopes to help many kids gain critical swimming skills.

"She thinks everybody in a body of water is going to drown and needs to be saved, that's her natural instinct," said her owner, Judy Fridono. "This is what this dog wants to do, she loves it and she's good at it."

You may know Cori's sister, Surf Dog Ricochet, who helps people with disabilities surf.

Cori has teamed up with Special Fishies, a swim program that teaches kids with special needs.

"I feel like I'm finally doing what I'm supposed to be doing with my life," said Jodi Powell, Special Fishies founder, "There's just something about a child that you don't think you can get through to, and you break through and they swim."

Cori helps break down barriers, reducing anxiety and fear in the kids. Powell says progress made in a month can be made in a week with the dog.

Fridono and Powell hope to inspire other swim programs to incorporate trained dogs.

They are seeking donations to help sponsor kids and are also looking for homeowners willing to share their ground pools for lessons.

You can donate through Special Fishies or Surf Dog Ricochet.