Ricochet, a 4-year-old golden retriever from San Diego, works with people who have Down syndrome, who are autistic or who suffered strokes. Patients touch an iPad, prompting a synthesized voice to deliver a command like sit or turn around or down. If the dog performs the command (and Ricochet always does), the patient can throw her a treat.
‘‘No cues, inflection or interaction is needed from her handler. They can communicate with Ricochet directly, giving them a sense of independence, self-confidence and empowerment,’’ said owner Judy Fridono.