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The thrill of search & rescue…

With winter approaching we thought we’d give you a really cool blog.  There are a number of snow resorts using dogs for search and rescue.   At Revelstoke Mountain Ski Resort dogs are at work every day ready to do just that.  Revelstoke (B.C. Canada) has some of the North America’s highest vertical slopes.  At times they experience an annual average of up to 11 metres of snow.  

The steep terrain combined with heavy snowfall creates avalanche issues. Avalanche danger needs to be mitigated before public are in danger. Maintaining the area takes a lot of work and mature problems in the snow such as compacting on high edges need to be addressed as early as possible. Some sections of snow pack are as big as a truck. Explosives are used to dislodge the ‘chunk’.  

Ski Patrol & Rescue dogs working in such locations are on hand in case there is an avalanche within, or outside the ski area boundary.  Each dog works with a handler and is experienced in detecting humans beneath the snow.  Avalanche ‘Avy’ dogs will detect, alert, dig to expose the person and receive their favourite reward upon success (along with a lot of praise).  Of course they get to practice finding real people as part of their training.  I mean, who wouldn’t want to be buried under the snow and wait for a furry lifesaver? The dogs are no strangers to travelling on ski lifts, gondolas, snow-mobiles and in helicopters.  From puppy stage through to adulthood they are also adept at being carried on the shoulders of their owner on skis. These dogs are very excited about their job and cannot wait to get started at work. If they even see the handler pick up a work tool or their ‘reward rag’ they amp up.

Training begins around 6 months of age with getting used to the snow, the public and the resort environment.  There are lots of games like hide and seek in the snow as his ‘nose’ is developed.  It must be kept fun so the dogs will want to participate.  They do not realize just how important they are, just that it’s fun to play these games. Dogs generally use two drives – the first ‘hunt’ to find the human scent, and then prey when they find the scent rag and are rewarded with a tug game.   If successful in training these wonderful canines can start their official work around the age of two.

Vail Mountain in Colorado has it’s own doggy team.

To watch the ‘adorable’ puppy Jake in action as he begins his new role click the link below…

Leah & Angela OMeara

Hound Dog Day Care (Specialists in Dog Minding & Dog Boarding, Pet Sitting Brisbane & Doggy Day Care Brisbane