Speed Reads

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Meet Whisper, the dog who jumps off cliffs and lives to bark about it


Most dogs are content if you keep their bowls full of food and walk them at least once a day. Then there's Whisper, whose owner says she's at her happiest when strapped to his back, diving from 13,000-foot peaks in the Swiss Alps.

The 4-year-old dog became a viral video star when BASE jumper Dean Potter posted a clip on YouTube of Whisper taking part in a jump with him, stuffed inside a backpack with just her head sticking out. The pair zoom down until Potter uses a parachute to break their fall. Potter told Mother Jones that when he adopted Whisper as a puppy, he hated leaving her at home while he went climbing and jumping. So, he figured out a way — after designing three backpack prototypes — to have the right equipment so she could go with him. He took her on motorcycle rides and determined that she enjoyed speed, and says that now when he puts on his wing suit, "Whisper nestles close and begs to come along."

The video — which is a teaser for an upcoming 22-minute film, When Dogs Fly, about Potter, his girlfriend Jen Rapp, and Whisper — has caused many people to become concerned for Whisper and her wellbeing. Potter says that he knows the dangers of BASE jumping, but that he and Rapp "are not stupid people, and we questioned if what we were doing was the right thing to do, just like any parent would."

Watch the video of Whisper's leap from the Alps below, and decide for yourself if at the end she's happy to have jumped, thrilled to be back on solid ground, or both. --Catherine Garcia