Second chances in life are such a rarity that we often tend to ignore and pass them up even when they’re staring us right in the eye, today’s story is one of second chances and will, a will to turn life around.
PJ Regan was on his journey of recovery from addiction, and to help himself out during phases of chronic relapses he decided to get himself a dog, a decision that turned life around for the better for both him and the dog he adopted. His bio now reads- ‘Rescued Man and Dog.’
When PJ decided he wanted a dog, he knew he was going to adopt. There simply was no other way for him so he reached the pound and picked out Clove, a pit bull, who was almost put down twice. Clove had a history of abuse, starvation and neglect which reflected in her behavior when PJ got her. She was shy and fearful and he wanted to change that but had no clue how to. On a whim he took her out for a walk and was amazed to see her free abandon and joy at being out exploring, it was a sign and PJ took it. That was four years ago, today the two have covered peaks, trails and hikes in all kinds of weather and show no signs of stopping.
Their love for hiking has changed both of them for good, Clove smiles more often and loves accompanying her dad on their adventures and as for PJ he writes, “I used to get high every day. Now I only get high on the weekends. A very different kind of high I should add… 4000+ ft. high……..It’s been a journey to get to where I am today. Unlike my weekend “high” excursions, this great hike has no trailhead, turnaround point, or destination. Just one uphill push on the greatest trail of all: Life.” It is evident to the eyes that they saved each other.
It was off to a running start from the trailhead. Making time like never before. Clove set the pace, a pace I could barely keep up with. As we reached Blackhead Mountain we took it down a notch to enjoy the sights and sounds, sharing stories with those we crossed path with. Black Dome was a hop skip and jump before reaching Thomas Cole Mountain. Here we shared lunch before retracing our steps back over Black Dome and down. Clove never showed any sign of slowing, energy reborn. Determined. Never once taking a moment to lay down, she just wanted to go go GO! It’s been a long time since I’ve seen her as enthusiastic as she was today on the trail. I couldn’t help but grin wildly at her fervor and joy. A beautiful autumn day in the Catskills! Brimming with miles, mountains, and of course… treats!
When was the last time you rolled around on the grass like a child? Looking up at the sky, visualizing clouds as animals and objects. Feeling that soft, but sturdy earth holding you afloat as you stare into the infinity above. Probably too long. Maybe never! My prescription to you is to do so. This time mom or dad won’t be yelling for you to get inside and clean up. Because you’re an adult now and you are fully capable of making adult decisions. Like rolling on the grass.
A throwback to a hike on the Franconia Range in February. Photos of Clove on our hikes present a plethora of expressions. From the joyous, blissed, and excited. To the serene and present. To the focused, stoic, and regal (probably more of these than anything else). But sometimes, and it’s usually when no camera is out to capture it… she displays her free-est self! In one of my all time favorite photos of Clove here, @photocait captured a pup in maximum stoke. We had just popped above treeline, the freezing wind at our backs, filling Clove’s coat like a mighty sail… she appeared to float up Mt. Lafayette in this moment. A rescued dog experiencing a wild freedom beyond mortal words! My buddy Chris (@adventuresofwinnie_and_anubis) expressed it yesterday that Cait has a divine ability to capture the moment. It goes without saying she absolutely does. Photo by @photocait.
Each hike or trail is like a new adventure for them, PJ takes utmost care of Clove’s comfort and safety something he admits that she doesn’t acknowledge much and while they’ve covered a lot of land between the two of them they’re not doing it for the numbers, they’re doing it for the joy it brings them while they’re on the trail on their way to the top, and the satisfaction that fills their heart when they reach the peak.
While on this journey together both of them have conquered their fears and faced their personal demons, but isn’t that what hustling is about, a constant strive towards moving forward in life no matter what the pace is and what the obstructions are. Clove is living the life she deserves, getting to see sights and living experiences that even a lot of human beings are unknown to and PJ has found the most lovable companion in her, he draws inspiration, the joy of living in the moment and the humane act of forgiveness from her.
Sitting behind a screen and indulging in the easy pleasures of life is as the word suggests, well, easy but talk to any trekker or hiker and they’ll tell you that there’s pleasure in getting through a hike without getting lost, scratched or injured and that they’d do it all over again even after getting lost, scratched and injured multiple times.
There’s absolutely no harm in kicking back and relaxing in bed on your weekends but if you’re ever in the lookout for other options; definitely consider a short trek or even a walk outdoors for that matter. Grab a partner and set out, that’s all you need well that’s all PJ and Clove needed. Through their story, PJ hopes to inspire people to adopt and not shop while looking for pets and to get sober, get out there and appreciate the many gifts that nature has to offer us. You can watch PJ share his and Clove’s adventures on his Instagram page @thebullhikes.
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