Dog Helps Adopter Reach New Heights

Though they came from difficult pasts, they’re embracing the present.

every gift saves lives

every gift saves lives

Patrick + Clove

Our story begins in early July 2013, when I received a call from Ruff House Rescue. Clove, a dog from Georgia who had a rough start to life, was in need of a home after changing hands several times. I picked her up without knowing anything about her past, but judging by the way she cowered in my presence, I knew it would be a challenge gaining her trust.

"Maybe it was the wide open space, the fresh air, or the serenity, but it was like she came to life."

Being a recovering addict with no direction in life, I needed accountability. Clove became my purpose. I realized that we both came from troubled pasts filled with uncertainty and pain. The next day I took her to a local park. Maybe it was the wide open space, the fresh air, or the serenity, but it was like she came to life. She accepted my hand for the first time there, running with me and smiling, tail wagging instead of tucked. It was also the first time I had walked a nature trail, and I, too, felt anew and free. We became students of nature that day.

Over the next year or so Clove and I would hike every chance we got. As I was training her to respond off-leash, it became obvious that this dog was born to run wild. And I, the same. Our love for nature was born together and grew more with each adventure. We became inseparable (to this day we have never gone a whole day apart). She accepted me into her life; our camaraderie became second nature.

When it was time to spread our wings, to the mountains we went! Starting small and building our stamina, we covered every mountain range in the northeast over the next year. Seeing her gaze off proudly atop these mountains gave me the excitement of knowing I am showing her—and myself—a life beyond our broken roots. If she had not come into my life and we had not taken that trip to the park, who knows where I’d be.

Since adopting Clove, we have hiked across America. Over a hundred mountains. Deserts, frozen lands, deep forests—we have covered it all. She drives me to seek new adventures and learn about new places. Clove has stood upon Mt. Elbert, the tallest mountain a dog is permitted to climb in the U.S. I say she was “the tallest dog in America” that day.

Clove has become well-known among hiker dogs worldwide, thanks to a story published by The Dodo that went viral in April. She’s also an ambassador for rescued bully breeds who have been given a second chance at life. Clove is an inspiration to the world; the story of our second chance together is unique. Most importantly, she has shown me the power to forgive and live in the present—to let go of the past and embrace each new moment.

Each year, the Petco Foundation invites adopters to share the story of how their adopted pet changed their lives during the annual Holiday Wishes campaign, giving the organization that they adopted from a chance to receive a grant award. This story by Patrick Regan won Ruff House Rescue in New York a 2017 Holiday Wishes award.