A dog’s nose is a powerful tool. Yes, a tool, because it helps them land so many jobs!
Today, we’ll forget for a second about our companion canines and buddies. They’re already doing a great job comforting us. We’ll focus on those service canines we see working side by side with humans.
Impressive working skills of German Shepherds, Border Collies, and Belgian Malinois are already well-known. It’s unbelievable what these canines do to assist police and military forces.
However, we often forget about a special class of working dogs, those that search and rescue people lost in mountains and trapped under avalanches.
While these missions usually don’t have positive outcomes, we can’t ignore the courageous dogs behind them.
Swiss Alps had (still have) St. Bernards, mighty giants that saved thousands of lives. Mount Bachelor has other breeds. Surprisingly, a couple of Golden Retrievers, a Border Collie, and a black Lab run this place. Let’s meet the avalanche dogs!
Masters Of The Rescuing Art
If you ask Shasta, Ruddy, Cashew, Mango, Banyan, and Riggins there’s nothing more meaningful than rescuing people in need. Trained from early puppy months, these doggos are destined to become excellent rescuers.
A day in an avalanche dog’s life is never dull. It’s action from the moment they open their eyes and step on the crisp mountain snow. The mountain is imprinted into their DNA. These dogs go through special training and desensitization to make them immune to winter wonderland.
They’re here for the job, not for playing in the snow, thank you very much.
One of the first lessons a future avalanche dog must pass is not to run towards guests and skiers. Their trainers do know how cute and pawdorable these pups look, but they’re doing an important job. Don’t be that guest that will call them for cuddles.
Avalanche dogs ride ski lifts together with their trainers. They go on foot patrol and inspect within the boundaries of the Mt. Bachelor’s complex. And, of course, they train them for the worst case scenario, which is the avalanche.
Accidents happen on mountains. That’s inevitable. A huge percent of accidents on US mountains happen on ski trails. That’s why more and more ski centers are establishing avalanche dog patrols.
Humans are hopeless against nature’s cruel conditions. But, with a little help from our canine buddies, we can tackle any issue with a pawsitive outcome.
The Importance Of Training
A successful career of an avy dog is not measured by the number of avalanches he goes through. The only successful career is the one without any accidents involved. The ideal scenario would be to go through training, drills, snow patrol, just for fun and precaution.
Still, these dogs need to be prepared for anything. Their training doesn’t start abruptly. Young puppies are introduced to snow and everything that comes with it from their early days. This includes playing all kinds of games in the snow, building real snow caves, and associating them with something pawsitive.
Every beginner avy dog starts by going inside a small snow cave, playing with his or her trainer there, and getting used to the fact there’s nothing wrong with being there. Picking up a scent and digging through the snow to reach it comes later.
Of course, everything is done using lots and lots of encouragement and positive reinforcement.Once the dog reaches the victim he will get praises and his favorite game of tug to play with the trainer.
These dogs need to be rewarded for their extra hard work, and they sure are getting plenty of praises.
The importance of avalanche dogs at Mount Bachelor should not be underestimated. Ever. These brave souls dressed up in canine coats are the ones you’ll be desperately looking for if something goes wrong and you end up lost.
That one loud bark saves lives. Those paws will dig deep through ice and snow no matter your age, gender, or color.
At the end of the day, when you’re tired of hopping down the slopes, trusted avalanche buddies will stay on the trails, making sure nobody gets left behind.