When you think of a dog climbing a mountain, you might see a dog trotting up a hill in your neighborhood, but that's not what Joanne Lefson sees. She and her dog Rupee did climb a mountain and a big one at that. Rupee has now become the first dog on record to climb Mount Everest, which is 17,000 feet above sea level.
Lefson found the little mixed breed stray in a garbage dump in Ladakh, Northern India and says that he was near-death. "When I saw him on that dumpsite he couldn't have had more than an hour to live," Lefson explains. "He couldn't even walk ten meters without collapsing." She had recently lost her last traveling canine companion Oscar, and she though Rupee would make an excellent sidekick; however, it would be a while before the little dog would be able to join Lefson during her travels. "The puppy couldn't have been in a lower place," says Lefson. "The little fellow had heart, I could tell that, but he was so weak having no food or water for days, if not weeks."
She began the sick dog on a high-protein diet of lots of eggs and rice and with added TLC, Rupee pulled through. Now Lefson began to wonder if he would be able to accompany her on her travels. She even wondered if the canine would be able to join her on her next adventure – a hike up the tallest mountain in the world.
Lefson made several trips to the vet who assured her that although it was a dangerous journey, he felt confident that Rupee could make the trip since he was born in the Himalayas and was use to the high altitude.
"I prepared for the worst and arranged an extra porter in case Rupee needed to hitch a ride," she says. But her travel companion managed just fine and 10 days later, the two arrived safely at the Mount Everest Base Camp. Lefson says that it was fun watching Rupee play in the snow for the first time.
Rupee is the first recorded dog that made it to the base camp of Mount Everest. It just goes to show you what a stray can accomplish if they are given a second chance.