“My mom was the one who got me into skiing. She was trying to look for an activity that could help me with my balance and with my arm. She put me into it recreationally at first, and then I continued to get better and did it competitively. I just fell in love with it and kept doing it. I never gave up on skiing because I am just too stubborn. I have a stubbornness issue. Even after I broke my hip a few years ago, I just kept on skiing. I enjoy the competitiveness of it, making new friends and going places I’ve never been before. If I had to choose my favourite place to ski, it would be Canmore, Alberta because of the mountains.
The thing I am most proud of is having participated in two Canada Winter Games to compete in cross-country sit ski. The first time I went was in 2015, when I was 14 years old. I got 6 out of 10 in all of my races. This year, the Canada Winter Games were held in Red Deer, Alberta. I got 4th place in the race and was just shy of winning bronze by about two feet. It felt good to be ranked at a higher place than last time. While I was racing, my mom heard the announcer say “Here come’s Caelan Flannigan with his hair blowing in the wind.” I also got presented a flag in Red Deer because of my good sportsmanship, my whole team signed it. People are starting to recognize me in the community for the accomplishments I’ve made in skiing. Before I left for the Canada Winter Games, I was presented with the CJTT Athlete of the Week. Recently, I also had someone come up to me while I was having a coffee to say something about how proud he was of me at the game. That made me pretty psyched. I want to compete at the next Canada Winter Games, which will take place in 2023. However, before that, I will stop skiing for a little while, maybe the next 2 years. I have an injured shoulder and some other injuries I have to take care of. But then we’ll see.
Another thing I am proud of is that I know a lot about dogs. I’ve always had a fascination with dogs, ever since I was little. I did a lot of research and have had a lot of experience spending time with dogs. I have had my service dog, Garth, for four years. He helps with my anxiety sometimes and even does stuff he wasn’t trained for. He will pull me towards an exit if I am having a panic attack and he lets me know when there is a noise of someone at the door by barking or staring at me. He is protective of me and I even think that he would give his life to save me. Sometimes having Garth around in public makes my anxiety worse because people don’t know how to act around service dogs. I’ve had people want to come and pet Garth or tell me that it is rude to have him in the store. When a service dog is wearing its vest, it is important to not talk or make eye contact with it; only the handler can do that. People need to know that if a dog is wearing a red vest, they should not touch it.
I like the way Cesar Millan trains dogs, it seems like he has a lot of the dogs that most people don’t want. I love how he rehabilitates the dog, and trains the people. I’m good at training dogs and I like it. I believe dogs like my energy because I am calm and I am assertive. So far I’ve helped train one person, and I’ve helped my grandma with her dogs. I will also be helping my yoga instructor with her dog because it keeps running away. Eventually I want to become a professional dog trainer. I want to rehabilitate dogs and train the people. The people are the hard part, when they don’t keep up with the training, its back to square one.”