LOCAL NEWS

Pro Mountain Climber Saved By Friendship With Motorcycle-Riding Dog

May 2, 2021, 10:34 PM | Updated: 11:25 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — For Jason “Singer” Smith, the 21st century started off pretty rough. He couldn’t cope with his emotional and physical trauma, and for several years, he just disappeared. He then returned to Utah with a story of friendship that has a tendency to turn heads when he’s on the road. 

Smith was traumatized after being kidnapped in Kyrgyzstan and then getting seriously hurt in a mountain climbing accident in Canada, but he found some peace of mind where he least expected it — in the friendship of a sheepherding, motorcycle-riding dog named Mattie.

“[She] changed my life so much,” said Smith.

In 2000, Smith was on a mountain climbing expedition in Kyrgyzstan with three other Americans when they encountered unexpected obstacles — anti-government rebels. 

The climbers escaped after one of them pushed a guard off the mountain.

Smith occasionally gives talks where he recounts the six-day ordeal.

To this day, Smith said he feels true guilt, not because of the guard, who ended up surviving the fall, as much as the death of another hostage, a Kyrgyz soldier who asked for Smith’s help before he was shot and killed by their captors.

“He asked me to help him safe his life,” said Smith. “[It was] as if somebody was hanging off the top of a cliff and they were about to fall and they asked for your help. And when I told him, ‘no,’ that was the moment that he just completely gave up, and the way that his face changed in that moment is something that’s just, it’s burned onto my brain and I just can’t forget it.”

After his experience in Kyrgyzstan and then a very bad climbing accident a year later, Smith said he was changed by guilt and post-traumatic stress.

“I experienced a stress meltdown,” he said. “The facade of society that keeps us all safe is actually wafer-thin, and once that’s been shattered for you, it’s very, very difficult to go back to normal society, in what we call a normal society.”

After living overseas for several years, it was, in part, the friend he made while working on a ranch in Australia, that helped him return.

“I would have never believed that a dog would have such an impact on my mental condition,” he said.

Mattie, now by his side almost 24-7, is his sentry, his social buffer and proof to Smith that he can be trusted to care for another living being.

“When Maddie and I forged a connection, it made me feel like I could be trusted to take care of something again,” said Smith.

“Yeah, makes me feel like I’m taking care of somebody, somebody really relies on me all the time,” he said.

Thanks to Dawn McBride of Fuzzy Love Photography for letting us use her fabulous portraits of Smith and Mattie.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

(Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)...
Karah Brackin

Utah families exploring nontraditional teaching options

Some Utah families are looking into different kinds of schooling that are gaining popularity -- homeschooling and pod learning.
13 hours ago
(Salt Lake City Police Department)...
Madison Swenson

Man arrested for illegally possessing gun, drugs and stolen truck

A 24-year-old man was arrested overnight for allegedly possessing a gun, drugs, and stolen truck illegally in Salt Lake City.
13 hours ago
(KSL TV)...
Matt Rascon

Jordan School District opens new elementary school

Only one road will take you to Oak Leaf Elementary and it’s not on the map. The campus sits in the middle of the field a few blocks from a neighborhood on the edge of Herriman City
13 hours ago
...
Madison Swenson

Man arrested in connection to Draper homicide

A 21-year-old man has been arrested in connection to the murder of 33-year-old Remey Rowland in Draper. 
13 hours ago
A formerly sunken boat sits on rocks near the lowered waters of Hemenway Harbor on July 28, 2022 in...
SUMAN NAISHADHAM, Associated Press

How new Colorado River cuts will impact states, residents

People in Arizona and Nevada won’t face bans on watering their lawns or washing their cars despite more Colorado River water shortages.
13 hours ago
(KSL TV)...
Alex Cabrero

Speedskaters prepare for 2026 Olympics

There is dedication and preparation in almost any career. Then there is Olympic dedication and preparation. For Olympians who want to be the best, it takes years to shave off a second or two. At the Utah Olympic Oval in Kearns, the 2022 Winter Olympics are already a memory. It’s back to hours upon hours, […]
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

tips how to quit smoking...

7 Tips How to Quit Smoking | Quitting Smoking Might be One of the Hardest Things You Ever Do but Here’s Where You Can Start

Quitting smoking cigarettes can be incredibly difficult. Here are 7 tips how to quit smoking to help you on your quitting journey.
Photo: Storyblocks...
Blue Stakes of Utah 811

Blue Stakes of Utah 811: 5 Reasons To Call 811 Before You Dig When Working in Your Yard

Call before you dig. Even at home, you could end up with serious injuries or broken utilities just because you didn't call Blue Stakes of Utah 811.
Days of...
Days of '47 Rodeo

TRIVIA: How well do you know your rodeo? Take this quiz before you go to the Days of ’47!

The Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo presented by Zions Bank is a one-of-a-kind Gold Medal Rodeo being held July 20-23, 25 at 7:30 PM. The Days of ’47 Rodeo How well do you know your rodeo trivia? Take the quiz to test your know-all before heading out to the Days of ’47 Rodeo at the […]
cyber security through multi factor authentication setup...
Les Olson IT

How multi factor authentication setup helps companies stay safe

Multi factor authentication (MFA) setup is an important security measure that every company should implement for their workers. It’s also wise to install it for your personal and home accounts.
...
Lighting Design

Check out these stunning lamps with stained glass shades

Lamps with stained glass shades are statement pieces that are more than simply aesthetic. They also meet a functional requirement: to light up a room.
Address Bar of internet browser shows internet access...
AARP Utah

Utah voters 50+ support increased access to Internet

The AARP surveyed Utah voters aged 50 plus about internet access and if they support the expansion of broadband, especially in rural areas currently lacking it.
Pro Mountain Climber Saved By Friendship With Motorcycle-Riding Dog