When Oscar passed away in January 2013, Joanne Lefson flew to Northern India to find solace in the high Himalayas. Ladakh was a spiritual space - and where, in 2008 she had established a donkey sanctuary to help the starving donkeys that live the region. It was there when filming a documentary about the sanctuary for the 2015 Cannes Film Festival that a stray puppy walked right up to Lefson and collapsed in her lap from starvation and dehydration. Oscar and Joanne had planned to travel to Base Camp in 2013 in what was to be called ‘EXPEDITION MUTT EVEREST’, and having nurtured the pup back to strength, she decide to complete the Expedition to honour their commitment.
In August 2013, the duo flew to Kathmandu and onto Lukla. They trekked for 12 days until finally reaching Base Camp in September 2013. It was the first confirmed expedition to the landmark by a dog and the story made international headlines. Rupee’s conquest of Everest raised awareness for the plight of Asia’s street dogs and served as a tribute to their resilience and potential.
On completion of Expedition MUTT EVEREST, Rupee flew back to Cape Town with Lefson and the dog was adopted by her parents. Rupee roams the mountains of the Cape to this day and while he still prefers to sleep outside and not eat that much, he remains the ‘slumdog' that hit the jackpot by finding a forever home from the vast and remote desert landscapes of the high Indian Himalayas.