Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Dog Named Velvet

This is another totally true story about a heroic dog named Velvet.  And the reason Velvet is so heroic is because she helped save three mountain climbers' lives back in 2007.  Velvet is a mixed breed dog, with black lab, German shepherd, and maybe also some cattle dog in her.  She was adopted by a man named Matty Bryant after she jumped into his car while he was on a climbing trip in Nevada a couple of years before this.

So anyway here's how Velvet's heroic story goes:  In February of 2007, eight people and Velvet, the dog, went climbing on Mt. Hood in Oregon.  Mt. Hood is the tallest mountain in Oregon, and people are all the time trying to climb it, for reasons that I don't understand because it's cold and snowy and dangerous up on a mountain!  But anyway, about 10,000 people try to climb Mt. Hood every single year, and between 1 and 3 of them die.

Mt. Hood seen from an airplane
So these 8 people went for a little weekend climbing trip on Mt. Hood, and they went partway up, and then they camped out.  And the next day they started back down.  But a terrible storm came up, with all this wind and snow, and the climbers couldn't see where they were going.  Then suddenly, the person in the lead fell off a ledge, and because they were all tied together, the next two people fell off the ledge, and so did Velvet, who was tied to them, too.  The fourth person in line would have also fallen, but the guy behind him grabbed him just in time.

The three people and Velvet slid down about 500 feet into sort of a canyon, and the other five people were left up above.  The five people up above were afraid to try to rescue the ones down below, so they called for help, and then they kept going down the mountain, and finally they got to the bottom.

Satellite picture of Mt. Hood
But the people who fell were kind of lost and couldn't figure out where to go because the snow was so thick.  They had cell phones and this thing called an "electronic mountain locator device," which seems like a silly name for it, because the mountain is so big that no one really needs help locating it.

Then after a while, it got to be night, and it was really, really, really cold.  The wind was blowing like 70 miles per hour, and the temperature was around 20, and there was snow, and it was just a yucky place to be.  So the three lost climbers found a little sheltered place kind of behind a rock, and they got out their sleeping bags and a tarp, and they tried to keep from freezing to death.  And one of the main reasons they didn't freeze to death was because Velvet lay on each one of them in turn, and she used her body to keep the people warm.

Velvet and her dad, Matty
Finally, on the next day, the storm let up enough so that the rescuers could come in and help the climbers walk back down the mountain.  And then when they got down there, they put them in an ambulance, including Velvet, and took them to get checked out by doctors and veterinarians.  Two of the climbers were fine, but one had a head injury, but not too serious.  And Velvet had some broken toenails and a cut on one paw.

Anyway, that is the story of how a dog named Velvet was heroic and kept three people from freezing to death or even getting frostbite.  And what we can learn from this story is that if you want to stay safe and warm, you shouldn't go mountain climbing.  But if you feel you must go climb a mountain, you should take a dog like Velvet along!


  1. I love Velvet! I'm also glad you write these stories, cause it just helps people understand how wonderful dogs are - then maybe the people will go adopt a pet! I have been to Mt. Hood because I have lots of family that live in Oregon. I can also say I have NO desire to climb it...or any mountain for that matter, but I respect those that do.

    Oh...Di just commented on yesterday's blog, and wow did she ever write a loooong comment.
    Love, AP

  2. Good story Piper. Mom said she heard about this on the news when it happened. She's from Oregon and knows the dangers about Mt. Hood.

    Have a great day.

  3. Dear AP and Zak,
    I'm glad you liked my story about Velvet, and I'm also glad that none of you will be trying to climb Mt. Hood anytime soon! It is definitely no place for a basenji, I can tell you that!
    Your friend, Piper