Humans tend to put themselves into intense situations for the sake of testing their boundaries. Some people enjoy skydiving or cliff jumping, and others enjoy snowboarding or ice climbing. Whatever the hobby is, humans really enjoy seeing how far they can push themselves. But strangely enough, humans aren’t the only ones who like to see how far they can go!If you’ve ever hiked up a mountain, you understand how tiring and difficult it can be, not to mention, extremely dangerous. Climbing a small mountain is one thing, but what about a mountain that has a peak that’s 23,389 feet in the air? Climbing a Himalayan peak is a large feat for a human, but what if a dog tried to do it?
On the tenth day of a month-long expedition to the peak of Baruntse, a Katmandu-based Summit Climb led by Don Wargowsky, was joined by an unsuspecting climbing enthusiast. While they were making their way up to the summit, the group was joined by a stray dog, named Mera. She immediately took a liking to Wargowsky. Once Mera proved that she was able to keep up, she became Wargowsky’s tent partner for the remainder of their trip.
Wargowsky and his new buddy were quite content sharing a tent with one another. “One morning we got wind so bad it ripped the anchors off the tent, picked it up, and moved it a few feet. She just woke up, looked at me, and went back to sleep,” recalled Wargowsky. Wow, it seems like Mera was more than capable of handling such harsh conditions!
Despite the fact that the group was keeping a decent pace, their new traveling companion seemed annoyed that they were going too slow. “I have no clue if she’d been up there before, but she seemed very confident in what she was doing,” said Wargowsky. Could it be that Mera thought that she was the leader of the pack? Had she been on this incredible journey before?
Other than briefly needing human assistance to zip-line for a short distance, she did the entire climb on her own. “I am not aware of a dog actually summiting an expedition peak in Nepal. I just hope that she won’t get into trouble for having climbed Baruntse without a permit,” said Billi Bierling of the Himalayan Database.
When the group reached their final day, Wargowsky explained that Mera seemed to be completely unaffected by the altitude! “I’d never been on top of something like that with a dog. She was leaning up against me and wanting to be petted. It was pretty surreal,” said Wargowsky. Despite the fact that there were terrifying drop-offs and an exposed ridgeline, Mera didn’t show even an ounce of fear.
It truly takes a lot of trust on Mera’s part to climb a mountain the size of Baruntse with strangers.“She had a lot of faith in me and the Sherpas to help her, but she really didn’t need any help. She did everything on her own,” Wargowsky said. Mera really is one amazing canine, and Wargowsky wasn’t the only one to see that.
During the expedition, Mera lost some weight. But once she reached the bottom, there was a person waiting to give her the care she needed. One of the people on the expedition couldn’t say goodbye to the incredible climber, and it wasn’t Wargowsky.
The expedition’s base-camp manager, Kaji Sherpa, wanted to speak to Wargowsky when they reached the end of their journey. “She’s special. She’s coming with me,” Sherpa said to Warkowsky. Sherpa renamed his new companion Baru, after Baruntse, and the two started the task of making sure that Baru gained back all of the weight that she lost on the expedition. Now, Sherpa says that Baru “is happy and well-fed.” Mera, who kept up with the expedition group the entire time, became the first dog ever to make the climb!
As amazing as Baru’s story is, it seems that she isn’t the only canine that enjoys strenuous human hobbies!
It was January 16, 2016, when April Hamlin of Elkmont, Alabama, let Ludivine the Bloodhound out to use the bathroom. She was supposed to just go potty, but she crawled under the fence and escaped. Apparently, Ludivine had other exciting plans.
The Bloodhound managed to sniff her way over to the start line of the Elkmont Trackless Train Half Marathon. There were 163 runners getting ready for the big race to start that morning. Ludivine showed up all by herself and no one complained when she began running along with them.
But of course, Ludivine couldn’t help letting her dog instincts take over. Which is why she stopped on more than one occasion to check out the scenery. At mile 2, she had to stop to sniff a dead rabbit and later, she stopped to play with a herd of cows. She also had to run through some streams. But she came back to join the race leaders.
One Elkmont resident noticed the Bloodhound and said, “I saw her for the first time in the parking lot before the race. She came bouncing up and I patted her on the head. I saw her collar, so I just figured she was somebody’s dog. Elkmont is a small town where everyone knows everybody, so it didn’t strike me as unusual.” This was Elkmont’s very first half marathon and it was organized by the parents of the children who run cross country. Some people had been training for many months before the event, but not Ludivine.
Runner Jim Clemens, who finished fourth in the race, even noticed how well Ludivine was doing. “Every time I thought she had dropped off to go back home, I would hear her coming back up to me and she would race past me up to the two leaders. She would run off to romp through the streams and into yards to sniff around for a while,” said Jim.
Ludivine’s owner said in an interview with Runner’s World, “All I did was open the door, and she ran the race on her own accord. My first reaction was that I was embarrassed and worried that she had possibly gotten in the way of the other runners.”
“She’s laid back and friendly, so I can’t believe she ran the whole half marathon because she’s actually really lazy,” said April. Ludivine may be lazy when she wants to, but she sure didn’t have any problems keeping up with the other runners!
Even though Ludivine wasn’t officially registered in the race, she was still given her very own medal for completing the 13.1-mile race. April had no idea where Ludivine was until her friends sent her photos of Ludivine at the finish line. Without any formal training or warming up, the 2-year-old Bloodhound was able to keep up with the other runners, even with a couple of detours. The canine finished in 7th place with a time of 1:32.56. Not bad at all for a first timer!
The Bloodhound’s participation in the marathon brought a lot of attention to the event, which is a fundraiser for the local school’s athletic programs. The race organizers officially renamed the race Elkmont’s Hound Dog Half in honor of Ludivine and her amazing achievement. Congratulations, Ludivine!