National Geographic explorers Cedar Wright and Alex Honnold learned something all dog owners already know: There is nothing better after a long, grueling day than snuggling with a puppy.
The pair are professional explorers; together, they climbed California’s 15 tallest peak for a NatGeo challenge they called Sufferfest, the magazine reported. They decided to follow up this expedition with an equally punishing one called Sufferfest 2, which sent them to the American Southwest.
There, they planned to bike 80 miles and climb 45 towers in three weeks.
The life of an explorer, while it sounds adventurous and romantic, is a difficult one. There are little luxuries and even less comfort, and as Wright explained, it often involves going to the bathroom whenever the mood strikes and the opportunity for some privacy presents itself.
That’s how he and his expedition partner came upon a puppy in need. Wright had to pee, pulled his bike somewhere “randomly in the desert,” and while he was attending to the call of nature, something caught his ear.
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“All of a sudden I hear this whimpering sound and at first I can’t figure out what it is and then I look and there’s this little puppy curled up in an old tire hiding from the wind. I quickly realized that he had been abandoned.”
According to Mental Floss, he was dehydrated and shivering as he cowered inside his tire. The puppy was likely minutes from death, and the explorers saved him.
A scruffy ball of black fluff that resembled a teddy bear more than a cuddly pooch, the puppy — aptly named Sufferpup — soon became an expedition mascot after he was saved and followed the explorers and film crew everywhere.
“Not only did we find a puppy, but we found arguably one of the cutest puppies in the world,” Wright said in a video about the discovery.
Holding Sufferpup like a teddy bear, the grown man coos in a baby voice and cuddles the little puppy with a huge smile on his face.
Of course, as soon as they saved the puppy, they came upon another problem: He needed to be fed, and they had no dog food or dog formula. So they improvised, giving him some string cheese (he ate the whole thing) that he later pooped out all over their sleeping bags.
But they still loved him.
Then came the matter of giving the puppy his own home. Luckily, the explorers like to bring cold beer on their expeditions, so they had an empty box that became the perfect shelter. They cut a hole in the front — which the puppy could peek out of — filled it with rags, and he made himself comfortable inside.
During the day, the explorers would suffer through their biking and climbing challenge, then come back to their saved puppy, hiding inside his beer box kennel away from the wind and sand. After feeding him, they’d get something from Sufferpup in return, Wright said.
“He became our little buddy, he became our mascot for the Sufferfest. For me, it was like ‘thank goodness for Sufferpup,’ because when you’re just pushing yourself to your absolute limit, biking further than you want to, climbing more than you really want to, it’s really heartening at the end of the day to come down and have this adorable little puppy to cuddle with.”
And of course, they saved the little puppy from death. As the expedition went on, he became healthier under their care, bouncing with energy and happiness, his coat shining.
When they got home, the saved puppy was adopted by the explorers’ friends, and now he’s well-loved and living a good life in Boulder, Colorado. He’s come a long way from hiding from the elements in that tire. He’s all grown up — and quite big — but Wright still delights in cooing at the dog and holding him like a teddy bear.
After all, the pooch saved them, too.
“Without Sufferpup I don’t know if we would have made it.”
[Photo Courtesy YouTube Screengrab]