We love avalanche dogs. Not just because they save lives, but because…dogs! Whether it’s watching endless videos of them (I stopped counting while “researching” for this article) or meeting a dog while at a resort, they make our days better!
Avalanche dogs (or “avy dogs” for short) are trained and certified in the search and rescue techniques of locating people under the snow after an avalanche. These dogs work closely with their handler/owner and resort ski patrol teams. Training and work consists of a type of hide-and-seek game, and any dog with a strong prey or herding drive will excel and love these games. Once the dog finds a human, its reward is to play a little tug, fetch or whatever makes it excited. The dog knows it’s been a successful day once it is playtime, and nothing makes it happier! These dogs practice in simulated training exercises almost every day during the season so they are at the top of their game when an avalanche strikes and it is time to find someone.
Avy Dog Fun Facts:
- Did you know that one avalanche dog can search an entire hectare (about 2.5 acres) of terrain in 30 minutes, while it takes a human up to 4 hours? It’s this speed that makes avy dogs an excellent addition to any patrol team.
- A handler is usually the dog’s owner and they go home with them at the end of the day. This creates an extra special bond between the human and the dog.
- Avy dogs are trained to ride the ski lift, just like we do! They can also ride in a toboggan, snowmobile, gondola and even helicopters.
Because everyone loves dogs, I have rounded up my favorite avy dog videos. Enjoy.
Jake, from Vail. Because…puppies.
Watch Moose practice his search and rescue skills.
Winner of the GoPro awards.
A nostalgic song, snow, and avy dogs.
Let’s be real, don’t we all love sliding down the snow?
And one last puppy for good measure.