Old Curtis Doesn't Have a Pedigree, yet He's Proud to Be Nothing but a Hangdog
updated 07/02/1979 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 07/02/1979 AT 01:00 AM EDT
Still, his owner was astonished at what Curtis did five years ago when Burke went hang-gliding off 350-foot Torrey Pines bluff (right) near San Diego. No sooner had Burke floated off into space than the dog decided to follow. To his dismay, Curtis proved to be a dangerously inadequate butterfly and tumbled partway down the cliff. A veterinarian had to insert three steel pins in his broken front leg. Deciding that if Curtis wanted to fly that badly, something ought to be done about it, Burke designed a special harness to take his pet aloft. "I hooked him up so his legs rest on my back, and he loved it," says Burke. "On the first flight he tensed up a little at takeoff, but once he got used to the idea he relaxed and started licking my neck." Burke is a hang-gliding instructor of 25 now, a pioneer in his sport who is thinking of switching to acting and songwriting. And Curtis is an old dog of 13 whose flight time will soon be behind him. For now, though, there is nothing either of them would rather be doing than soaring out above the Pacific as other dogs watch from below, wagging their tails and barking their envy.