Rupee, a stray dog that was rescued from a dumpsite in Ladakh, Northern India, and was said to be less than an hour away from death, has become what is believed to be the first dog to reach Mount Everest base camp, located at an elevation of 17,598 feet.
The dog was just 8 months old—starving, dehydrated, and extremely weak—when Joanne Lefson adopted the pup, according to the U.K. Daily Mail. She nursed him back to health on a diet of boiled eggs and rice.
Once the dog was healthy, Lefson decided to take Rupee on her trek to Mount Everest. She originally planned to make the trip with her first dog, Oscar, a canine that became an Internet sensation after traveling to 36 countries on five continents as Lefson promoted efforts to find homes for stray dogs.
Tragically, Oscar was killed in a car accident on January 11 in California.
Before the Everest trek with Rupee, Lefson, who is from Cape Town, South Africa, and is half-British, first checked with a veterinarian to make sure the dog would not suffer from altitude sickness at the base camp’s high elevation. Since the dog was born in the Himalayas, however, the vet assured her it would be fine.
“My greatest concern was wondering if Rupee could actually make it,” Lefson told the Daily Mail. “I prepared for the worst and arranged an extra porter just in case Rupee needed to hitch a ride.”
Rupee, Lefson, and Mumbai filmmaker Dev Argarwel, who shot the expedition, made the trek in 10 days to the famous Mount Everest base camp. It is uncertain exactly when they completed the adventure, but the news of the feat is apparently just now getting out.
“A memorable part of the trip was seeing Rupee touch and walk on snow for the first time,” Lefson told the Daily Mail. “He loved it. He played in it at every opportunity, chased it, and even tried to chew it at times.”
Lefson told the news outlet that many tourists they encountered along the way couldn’t believe that a dog was heading to base camp.
“They were jealous they hadn’t brought their dogs with them for walkies too,” she said.
Lefson stated on the Oscar World Woof Tour Facebook page that her goal is raising South Africa’s adoption rates, which are less than 10 percent, to 100 percent. It is apparent that Lefson will continue her work with Rupee by her side.
“Rupee is simply an extension of Oscar’s legacy and a fine example of what can be achieved when a homeless dog is given a second chance,” she said.
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