In a true underdog tale, a homeless dog rescued from a dump has reached the peak of Mt. Everest with his owner, becoming, according to some, the first dog on record to do so.
The dog, Rupee, was starved, dehydrated and near death when he was found by his now owner, Joanne Lefson, in a dump in northern India earlier this year.
“I was in the Himalayan areas in Northern India [and] this little pup came charging towards me,” Lefson recalled.
Lefson brought Rupee back home with her to South Africa, where she nursed him back to health. Once Lefson saw that Rupee was strong enough, she decided to bring him along with her on her planned expedition to the top of Mount Everest, the world’s tallest mountain.
“It was quite amazing to watch Rupee transform into this amazing Mount Everest-trekking superdog,” Lefson said. “He took the lead on most days. We were kind of dragging up behind him.”
Rupee came into Lefson’s life just as she lost another beloved, four-legged member of her family, her dog, Oscar, who died while in California with Lefson in January.
Lefson made Oscar a worldwide star after adopting him from a shelter in South Africa and taking him on adventures across the globe to highlight the plight of shelter dogs in need of homes. It was Oscar who was originally planned to complete the first dog-led expedition to base camp at Mount Everest with Lefson, an expedition that had been schedule for this past May.
“It was just a wonderful, spiritual, amazing experience and, obviously, in Oscar’s honor,” Lefson said of her trek with Rupee.