I ventured into the breathtaking French Alps with my colossal rescue dog for an exhilarating paragliding experience

“Conditions are good. Let’s go!”

Saturday

6 A.M. The alarm clock is ringing. Lauriane, my girlfriend, is just waking up. She’s doing a 12-hour shift as a nurse in the ICU. I am still half-asleep, but I see her telling our dog Ouka to stay in the van since it’s not time to go outside yet.

8:00 A.M. I have been half-sleeping for two hours, but the sun is shining, and it’s time to wake up properly. As soon as Ouka feels me stir, he stands up and shows me he really wants to go outside. I open the door and he finds a spot to lay down in the shade. It’s summertime and we’re in the Alps, so it’s not too warm.

8:30 A.M. We’re having our breakfast together. Well, that’s the idea but, in reality, Ouka finishes his food quickly then stares at me, expecting a piece of mine.

During breakfast, I check the weather forecast. We are going to have a beautiful sunny day, and it’s not too windy. A light south breeze is going to start in the early afternoon. That’s absolutely perfect for a little hike and fly!

9:00 A.M. My backpack is ready: it contains a light glider with my harness, my helmet, Ouka’s harness, some water for me and a flexible water container for Ouka to drink out of, a cereal bar, my 360-degree camera and voila! With only a few kilograms on my back, I can take off from almost anywhere.

As soon as Ouka sees me put on my shoes, he knows we are going for an adventure!
I put the canicross harness on him and we hike slowly. This gives us time to warm up our muscles, and also … well … you know. Ouka has to do his business!

10:30 A.M. We arrive at the take off spot and stop to drink and get our energy back. I use this time to observe the wind conditions and everything looks good!

The breeze is still a bit light, but it’s gonna be OK. I start preparing the glider while Ouka plays his favorite game: getting cuddles from as many people as possible! Ouka says hello to the other pilots at the take-off spot and, obviously, he always manages to find a good soul ready to give him a good scratch!

11:30 A.M. Glider is ready. Conditions are good. Let’s go.

I put the special flying harness on Ouka. We custom-made it in France. As always, Ouka is super chill! After so long, it’s routine for him now. He’s never been afraid of heights. Even on the edge of a cliff, he loves to observe what’s happening below.

When I first started to play with my glider around him, I gave him treats as soon as he came close. We camped for a few weeks. Then, I taught him a new command: “Take off.” This means he has to come between my legs and run with me. It helps me during the take off and it gives Ouka the possibility to run away if he doesn’t want to fly. When Ouka doesn’t want to do something (like take a bath!) you know.

11:35 A.M. “Take off, Ouka!” Ouka runs to his place between my legs. I can now connect him to my carabiner. We wait for the good wind, and I say, “OK, let’s go!” I inflate the glider, check that everything is OK, and … “Run! Run! Run, Ouka!”

Our steps are getting bigger and in a few feet, the glider starts to lift up — we are flying! In the air, Ouka is super chill. I put my feet under his paws, so we can still have a connection. We don’t talk that much, I just scratch his head from time to time.

We can see wild animals, other gliders and people hiking on the ground. Ouka loves to feel the wind in his fur. This is our happy place, in the middle of the mountains.

11:50 A.M. After a nice 15-minutes flight, our landing is in sight. 20 seconds before landing, I stand up in the harness and get ready to touch down. I adjust my trajectory, the ground is getting closer, and … we did it — a perfect landing!

The impact depends on the wind. With the right breeze, we would be able to land on a box of eggs without breaking them! As I am cheering on Ouka for this nice flight, I am controlling the glider on the ground, and then it’s time for the big cuddle session! I remove Ouka from my carabiner and take off his harness. Then it’s time for another cuddle session and the joy is real. I think this is what having a dog should be — having fun with your best friend.

I pack up my glider and backpack, chat with the other pilots and it’s time to go back home and do some shopping!

7:00 P.M. Shopping is done and I park the van in a new spot. Ouka is enjoying the fresh air outside while I start cooking dinner. Lauriane is finally back after her long shift at the hospital. Ouka is always super excited when he hears her car arriving!

Before adopting Ouka, I was not in a good place — if not in the worst period of my life. I was suffering from depression for many reasons (covid, no job, no money, heartbroken). Adopting Ouka a year ago was a way for me to push myself to get out of my bed. Ouka doesn’t care if I’m sad or happy in the morning — when he wants to go out, you have to take him out!

When I found Ouka, he’d been abandoned and returned to a shelter two times. We’ve created such a solid bond in a short time because he needed me as much as I needed him. I never imagined that a dog could change my life this much. And I could never have imagined that I’d meet an incredible girl thanks to him because … Lauriane was his dog sitter!

Watching my little family, at sunset, in the mountains, makes me realize how far I’ve come, and how close happiness was all along. I don’t know what the future will bring, but as long as these two are around, it’ll be the best adventure.

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