A 4-year-old, 55kg St Bernard dog named Daisy found herself in a role reversal of sorts this weekend after she collapsed on the descent of Scafell Pike near Brown Tongue and required a 16-strong team of rescuers from Wasdale MRT to stretcher her down the hillside. The story caught the attention of the mainstream media - including the BBC, CNN and Sky News - and a video of the rescue has amassed over 107,000 views.
Upon reaching Brown Tongue, Daisy displayed signs of leg pain and refused to budge. Her owner called Wasdale MRT, who "didn't need to think twice" about going up to rescue her, but consulted veterinary advice before setting off. A specially adapted stretcher was used to accommodate Daisy's large size and weight and carry her down the mountain, including across a waterfall. Initially reluctant to be helped, Daisy eventually acquiesced through the use of treats and appeared comfortable - almost regal - on her stretcher. The mission took 5 hours in total.
"The team rescues canine casualties around a dozen times every year but this was the first time a St Bernard breed has been rescued by the team," a Wasdale MRT spokesman told the BBC. The Team's Facebook post reads:
'At Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team we recognise that our mission "To save life and alleviate distress" extends further than just the visitors and the local community who visit or live within our area of responsibility. Having team members with their own pampered pooches at home and also our very own much adored search dog Jess, we recognise the distress that both an animal can feel and also that of their owners.
'Apart from the odd little adjustment, the evacuation was found to be not that much different to a normal adult evacuation which is of course is the bread and butter of our team, which we have done hundreds of times before.'
Daisy was "rescued" by her current owner a few months ago and had a tough start in life, according to the MRT report. The dog has been recovering well since the incident and is in high spirits, 'snoring a little louder than usual,' the MRT wrote on Facebook.
The St Bernard is a working dog breed with origins in the high peaks of the western European Alps, originally being bred for rescue purposes by the hospice on the Col du Grand St Bernard on the Italian-Swiss border. Tales of Alpine heroics over the centuries have made the St Bernard famous globally and a tourist favourite in the Alps. Their hooded eyes are adapted for moving through snow, shielding them from sunlight reflection. However, since the breed's development of longer fur through crossbreeding with the Newfoundland, the dogs' ability to work in snow diminished (snow would ball up on the fur and weigh them down) and their employment in mountain rescues faded out. The last recorded use of the breed in Alpine rescues was in 1955.
According to Wasdale MRT, Daisy now has her tail between her legs. They commented:
'She apparently feels a bit guilty and slightly embarrassed about letting down the image of her cousins bouncing across the Alpine snows with barrels of brandy around their necks.'
One YouTube commenter said: 'I'm not letting either of my dogs watch this and get any ideas...'
Watch a video of the rescue below: