Rupee Becomes First Dog to Climb Mt. Everest
updated 11/13/2013 AT 12:30 PM EST
•originally published 11/13/2013 AT 11:30 AM EST
A once-homeless dog named Rupee is believed to be the first canine to make it to the base camp of Mount Everest at 17,000 feet.
Rescued by Joanne Lefson from a garbage dump in Northern India, Rupee was malnourished, dehydrated and on the verge of death when she found him.
"When I saw him on that dumpsite, he couldn't have had more than an hour to live. He couldn't even walk 10 meters without collapsing," Lefson, an animal activist, said in the U.K.'s Daily Mail.
"The little fellow had heart, I could tell that, but he was very weak from having no food and water for days, perhaps weeks," she added.
Lefson cared for the 8-month-old pup and fed him a high-protein diet of boiled eggs and rice. Once Rupee recovered, Lefson decided he'd be perfect for the Everest expedition that she had originally intended to take with her dog Oscar, who had been her partner-in-crime for many an adventure before he died in January.
Prior to the trip, Lefson checked in with a vet to make sure that Rupee could handle the thinning air during the ten-day climb to base camp. Since Rupee was born in the Himalayas, the vet felt the dog would be able to avoid altitude sickness.
Rupee's favorite part of the trek? The snow. "He played in it at every opportunity, chased it and even tried to chew it at times," Lefson said.