#FindJasper, Gyp's thoughts on the matter...

Gyp posing on a cairn!
Me and me mate Si were in the Lakes for a well deserved break from work when we heard of a fellow collie dog in distress. At the time we heard about him, we were nearly in distress ourselves being high up on a very windy, wet and slippery Sharp Edge on Blencathra. We'd just teamed up with a chap called Ray for safety's sake because Si had a rope and some shiny metal bits if things got out of hand. Anyway, it was Ray who told us the story of Jasper's disappearance near the top of Scafell Pike the day before.

I could tell that Ray was a dog person straight away – it turns out he's got two dogs and one's a border collie! So I was happy to wait with him while Si negotiated the crux of Sharp Edge, a glassy and sloping slab with a big drop below it. When Ray released me to teeter across it I was glad Si had me on the rope as I was slithering sideways towards the edge with every move forwards. Finally I reached Si and he grabbed my harness and hoicked me up to a ledge he was sat on. After Ray had joined us, we admired the view through gaps in the clouds and then set off up the final but steeper part of the scramble before topping out on the summit of Blencathra.

Ray and Gyp waiting to safely negotiate the slippery slab
Ray parted company with us to return to Scales whilst we carried on along the Blencathra ridge towards Blease Fell where Si was hoping Liz would have left the van. As we walked, the weather closed in even more and I started thinking about poor Jasper and how he'd be feeling. I was lost once as some of you will know and being out with no shelter and in my case injured too is no fun I'm telling you.

Anyway, as we returned down to the valley I got a glimpse through the murk of my old home, Lonscale Farm and felt a wave of nostalgia for my days as a pup. Then I thought more and realised that although Derek, Rachel and Helen were very kind to me, I would have struggled with farm and pack life as I'm what Si calls "a sensitive little fellow"...

Sure enough, we reached the bottom of Blease and there was both the van and a very soggy Lizzie who'd just finished a mountain bike ride. I was made up to see her and gave her a big lick and some muddy paws for good measure!

Safe in his harness and roped to Si
On the way down we'd met a couple who were asking whether Sharp Edge was suitable to take a dog on. I was surprised to hear Si say, "no, not really", as I'd managed to traverse it. Si told Liz about this later and said that although he was confident we were safe and well equipped, to have a dog on the route could be a very dangerous distraction. I know that non dog people might wonder why I'm not on a lead much but my message to them is that I will always stick close to Si and do what he says. When I got lost it was because Si had left me with relatives and I went out to find him and got hurt. But if we do anything a bit necky then Si puts me in the harness of adventure and attaches a webbing long lead or even a rope to attach me to him.

Anyway, when we got home it turned out that the search for Jasper had gone what Si called "viral". Ugggrrrhhh, I had a virus once – most of my fur fell out and I couldn't eat! Si explained that the news of Jaspers disappearance had spread among people like a virus and that was a GOOD thing because now thousands of folk were concerned with his whereabouts.

Gyp on his way to the bottom of Sharp Edge on Blencathra
Si spent quite a time that night and through the following days putting out details of Jasper's plight to his friends on Facebook and to customers of Mountainfeet. Jasper's version of Si was called Adam and he was a decent mountain person type. I liked the look of him straightaway although don't tell Si that 'cos he thinks I'm a one man dog!

It seemed Adam was as upset as I'm told Si was when I went missing and was spending every waking hour searching the mountains for Jasper and following up possible sightings. Us farm collies are hardy and built for the bad weather and mountains but even we have a limit and as the days passed me and Si (and the rest of the world it seemed) were getting more and more anxious. I tried to tell Si that Jasper would be OK but even I was losing hope. But Adam was alerting more and more people and they in turn were passing on requests for help to others. Many people by day three were combing the countryside and responding to the many false alarm sightings.

On the Wednesday night, I could see that Si was very sad for Jasper and Adam. We'd just been up on Pule Hill in the dark and it was wild and windy – not good for anyone to be out without shelter. We only spent an hour on the hill yet I was happy to get in the van as even my fur coat wasn't doing its usual job. Si seemed OK in his clothing – maybe Paramo should make a dog jacket! We returned home and I noticed that the first thing Si did (before he'd even fed me!) was to check progress on the search for Jasper. I could tell there was no good news and crawled onto Si's lap for a fuss. He gave me a soppy bear hug which I only endured 'cos he's my best mate...

Adam and Jasper reunited!
But Thursday dawned and Si came bounding downstairs with a massive grin on his face. Had he won the lottery? Turns out it was better than that – Jasper had been found! A heroic former member of Penrith Mountain Rescue, Geoff Horky had located him in filthy and cold conditions in total darkness in the night and together with the help of Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team had evacuated a cold and exhausted Jasper from the high ground around Broad Crag on Scafell Pike. Turns out that a fabulous gent called Antony had seen a lone collie the day before seemingly resting and reported his sighting once he'd learned about Jasper's plight.

So, some lessons to be learned? Well, although most folk were highly supportive and sympathetic there were a few who said things like Jasper should have been on a lead. One even said that Adam should stick to the play park with Jasper! But these people don't understand too much...

Us collies are bred for the hills and most (not all though!) have agility, resilience and sense in the mountains. Adam is an experienced mountain man and Jasper had been on countless mountain walks with him in similar circumstances. Just one set of circumstances combined to part the two for an instant and unusually, that turned into a long separation. Is Adam to leash Jasper permanently in future as some have suggested? No, he'll naturally be more cautious but he'll do what's needed on the day just like Si does with me. Occasionally there's a situation where the lead gets snapped on me, either for my safety or because of a rule or byelaw. But us collies need to be free and providing we're not wild or a nuisance then that's the way it should be! (Editors note: Gyp is getting a bit agitated now and talking about sheepdog unions and biting certain people so we're just calming him down before giving him back the key board).

Grrrr, sorry about that – went off on one! Just one last thing now. A couple of folk questioned about who would pay for the rescue. Well, hopefully those people now know that Adam pre-empted this argument early in the search by publicising the great work that the various Mountain Rescue Teams do and setting up a donations page to the team that were working with him! As my paws fly over the keys I can tell you that the current donation total stands at £42,234.64 but more is still needed for a permanent HQ for the team. Adam's taken the help that was offered, generously acknowledged it day after day and paid back his supporters with interest!

Si donated as he spends so much time in the Lake District walking and paragliding – maybe me and him will need them one day although we both hope not!


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