We love stories about service dogs aiding their humans. But this relationship blew us away. A woman and her dog climbed the highest mountain in Washington state. And the climbers believe this summit with a service dog to be the first one on record. Impressive is an understatement in describing this pup and his mom.
An Inspirational Pair
Elizabeth Briggs lives in Colorado with her medical alert dog, Loki. Before this trek in Washington, the two had climbed 57 of Colorado’s 58 14,000-foot peaks. These two are pros.
Two years ago, Elizabeth met McKenzie Johnson, who had already climbed Rainier seven times.
“The topic of climbing Rainier came up almost immediately after we met and the idea intrigued me,” McKenzie told CNN. “Though I knew it would take more planning and education than the usual trip up Rainier, it was something I wanted to help them do.”
Elizabeth, McKenzie, and Loki spent their time preparing for the Washington peak by hiking, ice climbing, and completing a winter Colorado “14-er” (a mountain peak exceeding 14,000 feet).
“This gave me an opportunity to see Loki in his natural element and how the two of them performed together. Prior to Rainier, Loki had completed 80 ’14-er’ summits, which often included more technical scrambles, extreme exposure, and even roped ascents,” McKenzie said.
The Journey of a Lifetime
Last year the team attempted the summit but were unable to because of storms and illness.
So, they decided to try again in 2019.
The team took extra care to protect Loki. McKenzie wrote on Facebook, “Loki was put on a personal anchor system clipped directly into Elizabeth’s harness. That way, if we needed to pull them from a crevasse we’d be able to pull out Loki on his own before Elizabeth.”
The team brought something else besides Loki: a pineapple. McKenzie works for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. She manages a campaign for the Winter Pineapple Classic fundraiser. Her mother has blood cancer. So, as a reminder of what cancer patients deal with, McKenzie brings a pineapple on some major summits.
In the end, it was a fantastic experience for all. McKenzie said, “All in all, the trip with Loki and Elizabeth went seamlessly to the summit and back.”
What an inspirational story. Bravo Elizabeth and Loki!
Featured image c/o Washington Hikers and Climbers Facebook Group
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