Visitors to Utah’s Eagles Nest Hang Gliding are often treated to a peculiar sight: a flying dog.
The Australian cattle dog named Shadow sits in a special harness alongside his owner as Dan McManus takes to the skies in his hang glider.
Shadow, a psychiatric service animal, is McManus’ constant companion — on both land and in the sky —and he hates to be separated from his owner. In fact, that’s how he earned his name.
“He named himself really,” McManus told Fox 13. “He would follow me absolutely everywhere. When the name Shadow came up, it was obvious that was his name.”
Shadow’s companionship helps McManus cope with separation anxiety, but the dog’s desire to always be by his owner’s side made flying difficult.
“He always liked to chase me,” McManus said. “So I would be out here flying, and he would chase me and jump up at me and sometimes get my foot and hang on a little bit.”
The only way McManus could think to prevent Shadow from continuously giving chase was to take the dog with him.
Shadow took to flying easily. He hangs calmly beside McManus, happy to be by his owner’s side, and he even does his part to help out.
“He’ll put his little paws and arms out around me and hang onto my arm and get right with it. He shifts his weight. He looks down at the ground. He looks around at the other gliders in the air,” McManus said.
And while witnesses might think it’s strange to see a hang gliding dog, McManus believes that Shadow is exactly where he belongs.
“As we always say, home is where the heart is,” he said. “And I think this is where his heart is. He was born to fly.”
You can watch McManus and Shadow take flight in the video.
More dog stories on MNN:
- Dogs really do empathize with us
- 5 lesser-known facts about service dogs
- Why we turn to dogs when disaster strikes