Last week we got the chance to head up the road to Mt. Bachelor and spend a day with the Mt. Bachelor Avalanche Rescue Dogs. This season is going to be a busy one for these Ruffwear Ambassadors as they have one dog that is retiring and two new puppies to train! The team will be relying on veteran dogs Riggins and Wyatt to help show these newcomers the ropes.
Meet the team:
Kenai, a nine-year-old yellow lab, has spent every winter working and training on Mt. Bachelor with his handler Curtis Norsen. Kenai has had the privilege of attending training schools and seminars across the country sharpening his skills in detecting humans trapped in snow debris left by an avalanche. To the regulars of Bachelor, Kenai is a familiar furry face and a hero. Although he will not be active as a rescue dog, he will still be heading to work daily with Curtis – hanging out in retirement mode in the Ski Patrol Lodge.
While Kenai is relaxing in the lodge, patrollers Randy and Tyler will have their hands full with Mango and Banyan – the two newest team members of the Mt. Bachelor Avalanche Dog team. Mango and Banyan are from two different litters, though they are separated by only one day in age – both four months old. While on the mountain, we got to see Mango and Banyan’s first trip (of many to come) up the chair lift as well as their first ski runs. To our surprise, they acted as if they have been doing this every day for the past four months! They hopped on, lie down and hung out for the ride. Naturals!
Though this was an informal training day, Mango and Banyan will start to get much more formal training in the months to come starting with mountain orientation, obedience training and some simple hide and seek drills in the snow.
The veterans of the group are the two black labs – Wyatt and Riggins. Wyatt, handled by Matt Baldwin is five years old while Riggins is one and a half. Betsy Nelson handles Riggins, moving into his second season on the hill.
Next month we will be joining the Mount Bachelor team and avalanche rescue dogs from around the world at the Wasatch Backcountry Rescue (WBR) International Dog School. Not only is this training one of the premier schools for rescue dogs and their handlers, it also always provides an opportunity to learn more about our gear in four days than a whole year of internal testing! Keep an eye out in January for more from this intensive training!