Asia

Slumdog mountaineer: Abandoned puppy climbs Everest

Rupee posing with Hindu saddhus (holy men) in Kathmandu
Image caption Rupee made a host of new friends in the course of his travels

An abandoned puppy rescued from a rubbish dump in India has trekked to Everest Base Camp, a height of 17,598ft (5,364m) above sea level.

Its owner told the AFP news agency that they believed that it was the first dog to climb so high on the mountain.

Former professional golfer Joanne Lefson adopted the 11-month-old dog, called Rupee, in the Himalayan Indian town of Leh last September.

The pair began "Expedition Mutt Everest 2013" on 14 October.

The aim was to raise awareness about the plight of homeless dogs and encourage adoption.

Image caption Rupee took to the snow immediately and quickly adjusted to high altitudes

They accomplished their record-making feat 13 days later, with Ms Lefson describing it on Facebook as "one giant leap for dog-kind".

The pair traversed wobbly bridges, scaled treacherous mountain paths and narrowly escaped landslides.

The dog quickly adjusted to high altitudes and loved the snow. In the course of his travels he was cuddled by Himalayan monks and petted by innumerable children.

"I am so proud of Rupee," Ms Lefson told AFP. "I thought I might have to carry him on some days, but instead, he took the lead and pulled me along."

When she first came across the puppy he was dehydrated and close to death, she said.

"He was really skinny, he looked like he had had no food or water for days. I just couldn't leave him there to die."

Ms Lefson said that she personally nursed Rupee back to health, enabling him to gain weight after "embarking" on a high-protein diet.

"I hope his accomplishment will compel people to be kinder to animals, especially strays. We need to realise that every life matters," Ms Lefson said.

The pair are reported to have returned to Ms Lefson's home in South Africa, where Rupee is taking a hard-earned break from his adventures.

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