An Australian cattle dog named Whisper has become the first base-jumping dog in the world, according to several media outlets. Although that might be disputable, the one thing that is not is that the small dog enjoys putting on a pair of goggles and going for a ride with his base-jumping owner -- who conveniently wears a wingsuit for the flight.
Dean Potter, who posted the video early in the week, is quick to point out that to animal enthusiasts and animal rights activists that he wouldn't take the dog on his adrenaline-powered jaunts (like tightrope-walking) if the canine was averse to the outing. He told CNN in a May 30 interview that Whisper had many ways of signalling disapproval. Noting that she hated vacuum cleaners and helicopters and that she either would run away or growl when presented with something she disliked, he assured the anchors that Whisper only went along if that is what Whisper wanted.
The original video has garnered over a million views on YouTube but several copies and news media features also have hundreds of thousands of views. Because, really, who can resist a goggle-wearing flying dog? (Right, Snoopy?)
In the video, "World's First Wingsuit BASE Jumping Dog," Whisper is zip-lined to the jump-off on The Eiger, the famed Swiss Alpine mountain that many Americans recognize because of the Clint Eastwood movie, and bundled up in a backpack. Her begoggled head is the only part of her body that emerges from the pack. During the jump, she looks like any dog anywhere enjoying a little wind resistance, the only difference is that she's flying through the air on her owner's back instead of propped on the car door with her head out of a vehicle's window. Well, that, and those cool goggles.
Potter distinguishes his dog in the video as the world's first wingsuit base-jumping dog, which is a good distinction to make, considering that there are other dogs in videos base-jumping. Like, for instance, the video posted in 2008 by two Norwegian girls who not only produced a video of their small dog jumping from a tall building, they also got the little daredevil to leap on his own.
Because of the inherent danger to the animal (he's flying through the air unescorted), that particular action has been banned by the Federation of Animal Protection.
Dean Potter's video just might get him sanctioned as well -- and not just from base-jumping from the Eiger.