If only animals could talk. They’d be able to tell us some fantastic stories. I’d love to know what they get up to, where they go to explore and who they meet on their travels. We think Morzine’s latest celebrity couple would have quite an interesting tale to tell.
In March of this year the whole of the Vallée d’Aulps was rocked by the disappearance of two local dogs, Mungo and Mika. The pair ran off whilst on a walk on the river path between Essert Romand and St. Jean d’Aulps. Their owner Abigail Beaumont and her family launched a desperate search for the dogs, putting up posters in the local area and leaving out trails of socks, blankets and treats on paths in and around the area they went missing, in the hope of tempting them home again. There’s no doubt that Morzine is an area of dog lovers and it didn’t take long for a lot of people in the valley to get involved in the search.
Mungo and Mika were rescued by the Beaumont family when they were living in the Bahamas. Mika is six and Mungo three. They’ve come a long way from the street dogs they used to be. I think it was the fact that these family pets were so clearly loved and missed that really tugged on the heartstrings of the local community. As always, this amazing valley didn’t disappoint and rallied together to make sure that these two adventurers were brought home safely.
It wasn’t until the 6th April (exactly two weeks after they went missing) that Abigail and her family got their first bit of really positive news. Local trail runner and hiker Leanne Emery Garner was out walking in the Graydon area when she heard a dog barking followed by another howling. As a dog lover herself, she was already desperate to help find Mungo and Mika, so when she heard two dogs in an area close to where they went missing, she couldn’t ignore it. And it’s a good job she didn’t!
Snow and bad visibility meant it was impossible to locate the dogs, let alone mount a rescue operation. The family called the local mountain rescue who promised to send out the helicopter when the weather improved. However this was going to mean at least another night out in the cold for Mungo and Mika. But there was nothing anyone could do at this point other than go home and wait for the weather to clear. In the time that I had taken a break from watching my phone to make a cup of tea, everything changed. A simple message saying “we have Mika” popped up. “What?!” I thought. “Don’t tease us!” But it was true. Leanne and husband Tom had headed home, but just couldn’t stop thinking about the poor dogs possibly trapped or injured in a freezing cold Graydon. She put a shout out for anyone with any knowledge who might be able to advise them. Within seconds local ski instructor Cameron Skinner from PDS Academy telephoned saying he wanted to help. He, along with Marc and George Walton from Peak Snowsports, decided that they couldn’t just leave Mungo and Mika to face another night out in the cold and launched their own rescue operation.
These guys are thoroughly trained, hugely experienced and knew what they were doing (don’t try this at home kids); they quickly headed off towards the barking and managed to locate the dogs. This was all at around 6.30pm, so the team were aware they had to act quickly to avoid nightfall. It took over an hour for them to hike up and climb to rescue the two dogs, who were stuck on an icy ledge. But rescue them they did. We had the heart stopping moment when they found Mika, but with no mention of Mungo, luckily it was only minutes before we heard “we have Mungo too”… and the whole valley breathed a sigh of relief.
It didn’t end here though. The boys had a long and difficult walk back with two weak and very tired dogs. It was nighttime before they got back to the safety of Graydon and an overjoyed family reunion. Leanne said, “the reunion was amazing. The kids were so happy. And the dogs looked better than we imagined and were so happy to see their family.” As you can imagine, this was a moment that the family will never forget. Abigail said “thank you for not giving up on them. The guys were such selfless dog-loving heroes to go up in the snow and dark to rescue them!”
We already love this valley for its amazing sense of community but the search and eventual rescue of these two dogs was testament to the amazingly supportive nature of the people who live here. Abigail said “It was very warming and humbling. We met more people in the 17 days the dogs were lost than we had in the last four months here in Morzine and St Jean d’Aulps”.
Mungo and Mika are certainly happy to be home and are in good health, despite losing 20% of their body weight whilst on their adventure. If it wasn’t for the heroic actions of a few brave people, this amazing story may have had a very different ending. But for now, we can all rest easy knowing that Mungo and Mika are safe and in the arms of the people who love them the most.
Here at Morzine Source Magazine we’re huge supporters of our local mountain rescue teams and the brave folk who risk their lives to keep us safe in the mountains. It was the Pompiers, our local fire and rescue service, that first responded to the call when Mika and Mungo were located. They told us that, upon arriving at the scene in Graydon in the late afternoon, the snowpack was obviously unstable following warm temperatures earlier that day. Slips could be heard higher up the mountain and very low cloud meant poor visibility. The dangerous snowpack meant an on-foot rescue was too dangerous, especially as there were no confirmed sightings of the dogs and no way of knowing their condition. Similarly, cloud cover was too low and dense for a helicopter rescue. After consulting a detailed weather forecast, the decision was made to wait until the following morning, when there was minimal chance of cloud cover, to lift Mika and Mungo from their mountain perch by helicopter. This plan would have meant the dogs were located visually before a rescue was launched, the risk to the lives of the rescuers would have been vastly reduced, and the dogs wouldn’t have had to make the lengthy and dangerous journey down the mountain.