Shams, 39, grew up in the south of France and has been paragliding for 15 years. He took 3-year-old Ouka, very cute but very active, into the sky .
“I knew it was possible, since many pilots had already taken their dogs into the air with them,” Shams said. “One of my favorite things about paragliding is going to the top of a mountain and flying down, and since Ouka is a sled dog by nature, I immediately thought it would be really cool to fly down together.”
Over the course of several months, Shams made gradual, cautious moves so that Ouka could fly. When Ouka started running between Shams’ legs during takeoff training, Shams knew he was ready. He tried out a dog harness belonging to a friend who had a dog about the same size as Ouka, and the dog appeared so relaxed in it that Shams later ordered a harness made to Ouka’s custom measurements.
The pair began with a second flight to test their tandem takeoff and landing skills and for Shams to observe Oookie’s reaction. The dog took to the air like a duck dives into water. The pair increased the flight time to one minute, then to five, then to ten, then to thirty.
Once in the air, Ouka is calm and looks around, Shams says. After he lands, he waits for his owner to remove his harness and then runs around looking for hugs from other pilots who have landed nearby.
His fearless and cheerful dog is the perfect companion.
“Honestly, I never thought a dog would change my life so much, but we’re very happy together,” Shams says.