Mountain dog receives an award for more than 200 rescues in 11 years of service


The service of a RETIRED search dog, who was regarded as the UK's longest-running mountain rescue dog, is being recognized.

Prior to her retirement in 2020 at the age of 14, border collie Skye had performed 200 searches over her 11-year career in the Lake District.

In recognition of her achievements, Skye will receive the PDSA Order of Merit, also referred to as a "animal OBE."

Throughout Skye's service, she conducted searches for the missing with her handler, 49-year-old John Leadbetter, in all kinds of weather.

The committed dog's career with the Bowland Pennine Mountain Rescue Team began when she was a puppy. As a trained and rated searchdog, she later worked with Duddon and Furness MRT before going on to Langdale and Ambleside MRT and then Kendal MRT.

Skye is absolutely everything to me; we have been companions for life, and she is my dearest friend on the fells.

"Watching her receive the PDSA Order of Merit is truly humbling and touching, and it's a wonderful recognition of the time and hard work that search dogs and their teams devote to mountain safety."

In the course of her long and distinguished career, she has guarded and aided people who are in danger, but she has also served as an ambassador, raising money and bringing attention to important causes.

Skye is the 36th animal to receive an award from the PDSA Order of Merit, which was instituted by the group in 2014 to recognize animals for their outstanding contributions to society.

According to PDSA director general Jan McLoughlin, "We are incredibly proud to be honoring Skye with our PDSA Order of Merit."

"We believe that this is a fitting tribute to her lifetime of dedication and hard work," the statement continued, "because of her exceptional skills and exceptional devotion above and beyond that of ordinary companionship."

"Over the course of her lengthy and illustrious career, she has not only protected and assisted those who are in need, but her work as an ambassador has also significantly increased awareness of the amazing work that these Mountain Rescue teams do and helped to raise significant funds."

With the Bowland Pennine Mountain Rescue Team, Skye had her initial training as a puppy. She later earned her certification from the Lake District Mountain Rescue Search Dog Association.

Along with Lancashire, the Pennines, and Scotland, she conducted searches throughout the entire Lake District.

She is almost 16 years old and is presently spending her retirement years with Mr. Leadbetter and his family. They report that she still finds enjoyment in being outside on the hills and fells, albeit at a little slower pace.


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