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Oldest search and rescue dog retires at 14 after devoting life to saving people

Picture of Border Collie Skye dog-wow
© Lake District Mountain Rescue Searchdogs - Facebook

A Lake District mountain rescue team says goodbye to its Border Collie after 11 years of faithful service. Read on to discover what is now in store for Skye.

By Nick Whittle

Published on the 29/09/2020, 10:00, Updated on the 08/02/2021, 13:25

She worked the mountains for 11 years alongside owner and handler John Leadbetter, but today Skye hung up her harness and called it a day. Since she was three, the brave Border Collie has accompanied Mr Leadbetter on S&R missions across the Lake District, often encountering people desperately in need of assistance.

Nothing appeared to faze her, and all the while she would remain by Leadbetter’s side, faithful and ready to help.

Pager calls

Talking to the BBC, Leadbetter said that although Skye was his ‘pet’ she became his rescue partner at the sound of the emergency pager.

Over the course of her illustrious career Skye has taken part in searches around Cumbria as part of the Lake District Mountain Rescue Searchdogs. She has also been on missions throughout Lancashire, the Pennines and Scotland.

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Leadbetter said Skye – like other search dogs – allowed his team to cover larger areas of land, and the canine nose was the weapon of choice.

"One dog will do the work of between 15 to 20 people on the ground across different terrains," Leadbetter told the Beeb.


But now at nearly 15 years old Skye’s time has come to curl up in front of the fire, and to be the loyal and loving pet she is.

Asked what was in store for his beloved pet, Leadbetter said, “Here's to a happy and full-filled retirement full of fun, exploration, enjoying the hills."