As cute as rescue dogs can be, they’re also highly critical to resorts’ avalanche rescue teams. When it comes to finding skiers and riders buried without beacons or transceivers on, avalanche dogs can be the difference between life and death. Thanks to their acute sense of smell and ability to cover ground spanning a football field in half the time it would take human rescuers, dogs—especially Retrievers, Shepherds and Collies—are the perfect animal for the task. Ski patrol handlers start training as early as possible; many dogs are as young as eight weeks when they begin the program.
Even though avy dogs are working dogs, they’re still playful, loving dogs when they’re off duty. They form special bonds with their handlers and enjoy socializing with visiting skiers and riders. So don’t be shy, ask the handler if you can say hello and get ready for some licks!