Sunday, March 4, 2012

Avalanche Dogs

Dogs are becoming more visible at ski areas these days. These dogs and their handlers work very hard on the mountain.

Crystal Mountain in Washington has one of the oldest avalanche dog programs. It has been in place for over 20 years.

Cirrus is a German Shepard and is on her seventh season at
Crystal Mountain. She belongs to Andrew Longstreth.

The main job of the avalanche dogs is to search for snow buried victims. If any avalanches occur that are not witnessed, the dogs are used to clear the area making sure no one was buried. Dogs are able to search these unstable areas safely in seconds where humans could take hours and risking more lives.

Dogs are used to augment the avalanche rescue plan because they are much faster than humans. The dogs are very important especially if the victim is not using an avalanche rescue beacon.

Training the dogs to search is not done with treat rewards. For these dogs, the search is a game, and the dogs work because they love it. Once the dogs have been trained to search, practice is crucial to hone their skills.

Visit the Crystal Mountain's Avalanche Dogs Facebook page to learn more and see breathtaking photos.

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