Whisper, a 4-year-old miniature Australian Cattle Dog, has officially become the first dog to complete a wingsuit BASE jump. But a video posted by adventurer Dan Potter documenting the historic free fall has sparked some controversy among animal activists.
The video shows Potter, a world-renowned mountain climber and BASE jumper, placing his pooch in a tightly secured backback and outfitting the pup with doggles and a what appears to be a doggy hat or helmet. The pair then take a daring leap off of the Eiger, a 13,020-foot mountain in the Bernese Alps in Switzerland.
Potter uses a wingsuit to complete the death-defying jump. Throughout the clip, the dog appears to be incredibly calm and extremely happy when he is back on the ground. The preview video is part of a larger, autobiographical documentary called “When Dogs Fly.”
The posting has incited some outrage from animal lovers who believe that it is cruel to put a dog in such a frightening situation. Obviously, the dog can’t speak up and say, “Hey man, I don’t really want to jump off of a 13,000-foot mountain.” And it is hard to get a read on the dog’s level anxiety or fear factor from this short clip.
But Whisper accompanies Potter and his girlfriend Jen on most of their adventures. She can be seen participating in several daring stunts on Potter’s Instagram feed. The dog appears to be accustomed to a life of mountain climbing and repelling over canyons in a harness. Potter documents his beliefs about Whisper’s safety on his website, saying, “I do not force Whisper to do anything she doesn’t want to do.”
And while Whisper might be the first dog to complete a BASE jump, she isn’t the first dog to parachute. In fact, dogs have been parachuting with their owners dating back to the early 1900s.
We will likely learn more about Whisper and her adventures when Potter’s documentary is released to the public. The film was recently screened at the Mountain Film Festival in Telluride, Colo.
First Published July 23, 2014 12:00 AM