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!
Meet Crested Butte’s Moose
Vail’s newest addition
Telluride’s Avalanche Rescue Dogs
Whistler Blackcomb avi dog training
Copper Mountain’s trainee Mason
Breck’s rescue-dog-in-training Sugar
Mammoth Mountain’s avalanche dogs
Lake Louise’s Ranger
Originally from the icy trails of New Jersey, I moved West to pursue powder and a career in writing and editing. Now in Aspen, Colo. and working for Ski.com managing the website and blog content, I couldn't be happier. You'll find me skiing at Aspen Mountain or Aspen Highlands in the winter and mountain biking at Snowmass in the summer.