Oldest working mountain dog honoured for 11 years of brilliant service

Skye on the mountain
Sweet Skye (Picture: PA)

A dog with a life-saving job has been awarded for her incredible work.

Skye, the border collie, previously worked as a mountain dog – and has carried out 200 searches during her 11-year career in the Lake District.

Now retired at the age of 16, the pooch has been honoured for her dedication and outstanding work.

Skye has recently been awarded a PDSA Order of Merit, which is thought to be the animal equivalent of an OBE. The canine is the 36th animal to receive the PDSA Order of Merit – which was set up by the charity in 2014 to recognise animals for their exceptional contribution to society.

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During her time working, Skye carried out searches for missing people with her handler John Leadbetter.
SKye and John
With her handler John (Picture: PA)
Speaking about Skye’s award, John said: ‘Skye means everything to me, she’s my best friend on the fells and we’re life-long partners.

‘To see her receive the PDSA Order of Merit is a truly humbling and touching experience, and it’s a wonderful recognition of the time and hard work that search dogs and their teams dedicate to mountain safety.

‘To say we’re chuffed is an understatement.’

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Close up of Skye
She’s been given the animal version of an OBE (Picture: PA)
Sweet Skye began her training as a puppy with Bowland Pennine Mountain Rescue Team and then went on to qualify with the Lake District Mountain Rescue Search Dog Association in 2009. She carried out searches all over the Lake District, in all weather conditions, and even went further afield to Lancashire, the Pennines and Scotland. After retiring at the age of 14, she’s now enjoying a ‘slower paced’ life with John and his family.

But her career has certainly made a lasting impression.

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PDSA director general Jan McLoughlin said: ‘We’re incredibly proud to be honouring Skye with our PDSA Order of Merit.

‘Her exceptional skills and outstanding devotion above and beyond that of normal companionship make her a very worthy recipient, and we feel this is a fitting tribute to her lifetime of dedication and hard work.

‘Her long and distinguished career has not only seen her protect and help people in danger, her ambassadorial work has helped to raise important funds and increase awareness of the incredible work these Mountain Rescue teams perform.’

INTERESTING FACT ABOUT YOUR PET: Having a pet in the home can actually lower a child’s likelihood of developing related allergies by as much as 33 percent. Children exposed early on to animals tend to develop stronger immune systems overall.

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