An experienced paraglider got an unforgettable surprise when he realized that his dog also had his eye set on the horizon. As time passed, the dog got more curious about the sky, and it didn't take long for the pair to begin paragliding safely together.
With each new adventure, the dog got more excited, and he definitely was not afraid of heights. Adopting the dog not only helped the man feel more positive, but now he has a devoted partner every time he's in the air.
What are the details?
Shams, 39, lives in France and has been a paraglider for 15 years. He decided to share his home with Ouka, a "lovely but very active" Samoyed, who has helped him feel better emotionally and learn that there is still much to hope for and be happy about.
And the dog didn't stop at adding a positive note to everything in the man's house. Ouka was curious about what he did and particularly about flying.
That's how Shams got the idea they might go together and enjoy every adventure as a pair.
"I knew that it was possible, as many pilots have already taken their dogs with them in the air. One of my top favorite activities is hiking to the top of a mountain and then flying down. So, since Ouka is a sled dog by nature, I immediately thought it would be super cool to hike somewhere faster, thanks to Ouka, and fly down together!" Shams shared with The Epoch Times.
The man was cautious for a few months until he was sure Ouka would be able to handle flying.
"First, I noticed that he wasn't afraid of heights; he loves to look down and observe everything when walking on a cliff's edge. Then, we stayed close to the van during a paragliding takeoff. He saw pilots flying every day. After that, I started playing on the ground with my own glider so he could get used to its sound, the movement, and what he can and can't do," Shams said.
The man also tried out a dog harness he borrowed from a friend who had a pet about the same size as Ouka. The brave Samoyed looked all "chilled out and comfy," so Shams went ahead and had one made specifically for him.
The man and his dog practiced several flights that only took a few seconds so they could improve on their tandem landing and takeoff abilities. Shams was also attentive to Ouka's reactions, but he had no reason to worry since the dog loves being in the air.
Shams posted their first full-length paraglide on social media, and the online response was so positive that today Ouka has his own page where thousands of fans come to check in on him and encourage the happy fluffy dog that wouldn't say no to any challenge.
"Our story is remarkable. I was depressed when I adopted Ouka, and he had been abandoned two times already. Getting so many messages telling us that we help people feel better has been a great surprise. Ouka helped me share my emotions and feelings, and other people can feel it, too," Shams said.
When they are in the air, Ouka looks around and is always very calm. Once they land, the dog is eager to have the harness off so he can run around and get some cuddles from Shams and the pilots all around.
Shams first started paragliding with friends for fun, but then he realized he wanted to master the technique behind it. He is still learning new things today but thinks he is a good pilot precisely because he is aware of his limits.
The French native gave up his Ph. D. in computer graphics and became a full-time cinematographer and film director, focusing on sports and outdoor adventures. He had been traveling for four years in his van when the restrictions started, but paragliding has allowed him to get a sense of freedom even if he had to come back to Europe.
"Paragliding is the easiest way to fly. Imagine carrying an airplane on your back! It's completely silent; there's just the sound of the wind in your ears. It is relaxing, slow, and calm. Everything is so smooth. You run, and then before you notice it, you are flying like a bird," he explained.
Even though he doesn't take part in competitions, Shams has flown in many places around the world. He has fond memories of gliding 6,500 meters above the mountains of Pakistan and a unique view of Polynesia's blue lagoon. However, he is always happy to hike to any summit and glide back down to his van.
And the curious and brave Samoyed is his ideal companion.
"Ouka changed my life so much; we're happy together. We never did anything for the likes. We will keep doing what we do, just because we like this lifestyle," he concluded, pointing out that enjoying paragliding together has added smiles and so much hope to his life.