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I was in Utah boarding for the last few days and saw several S&R dogs and talked to some of the handlers as they finished training. Those dogs love their jobs. All appeared to be field labs. They also ran them on the ski slopes while the handlers skied beside them. They stayed on top of some pretty deep, soft snow, and lunged through the powder. It was very cool.

Steve
 

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We have a bunch of those up here in Taos Ski Valley. You are right, they all seem like field bred and it amazing to watch them just fly through over 2 feet of powder!! I hope to get to meet some of the handlers one of these days and talk about how they train.
 

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any pics please?
 

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A couple of my pups went to avalanche SAR. IMO, one of the best jobs a dog can have as they get to spend all day with their owners on the hill, do training daily, and have the opportunity to really play a huge role in helping someone in trouble. Here's a photo of "Digger" in action:


He is 'ragging' which is what they call tug of war. They always use a piece of clothing for tugging with as the reward for a find.

I don't know a lot about the details of the training program but do know that they practice pretty much every day. A lot of time is spent conditioning the dog to do things like ride on the lift or a snowmobile, get dangled into and out of a helicopter, and learning to ski between the handlers legs as they go down the hill, in addition to the actual search work. Some of them are 'single purpose' avalanche dogs and others are crossed trained to do other types of searching during the non-winter season.
 

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Thanks Erin, that is some of the stuff I was curious about. What particular characteristics were they looking for when you said a few of your pups went to Avalanche SAR? Was it more about the breeding, the appearance or the personalities?
 

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A couple of my pups went to avalanche SAR. IMO, one of the best jobs a dog can have as they get to spend all day with their owners on the hill, do training daily, and have the opportunity to really play a huge role in helping someone in trouble. Here's a photo of "Digger" in action:


He is 'ragging' which is what they call tug of war. They always use a piece of clothing for tugging with as the reward for a find.

I don't know a lot about the details of the training program but do know that they practice pretty much every day. A lot of time is spent conditioning the dog to do things like ride on the lift or a snowmobile, get dangled into and out of a helicopter, and learning to ski between the handlers legs as they go down the hill, in addition to the actual search work. Some of them are 'single purpose' avalanche dogs and others are crossed trained to do other types of searching during the non-winter season.
I've got involved with a couple of K9 officers here. I totally agree that the time the dogs with a handle, all day, every day is the greatest thing there is for them!
 

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The handlers I've placed puppies with asked for a smaller sized lab since it makes it easier to do the helicopter lifts, snowmobile riding, etc. Beyond that, they have asked for confident, outgoing, agile puppies with good structure and who are not sensitive to sound. Proper double coat for working in the snow. The people that have acquired SAR prospects from me have known some other dogs from my breeding and liked the size, drive and perseverance and they like that I do a lot with the puppies when they are young to promote confidence and agility. We have a few more going into SAR homes this year, which I am very excited about.
 

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My brother is one of those that use to work with S&R for 15 years at a ski resort in Utah. Like Kinderdoggin said, smaller, confident dogs that can ride on a ski chair, sled etc.... What was interesting to note was, they use to use labs, switched to German Sheppards and then went back to labs about five years later. He said that the Sheppards would develop problems with there elbows and developed eye problems from the Sun reflecting off of the snow in the Spring. One morning I was headed out duck hunting and was getting the truck ready. We had just received a foot of fresh snow on top of a foot from the day before. As I was going back and forth from the street curb to the house, I dropped my keys. I searched and searched and searched....nothing. I went in the house and got my brother and his dog. They came out, he gave her one of my gloves to stiff. He pointed at the ground and said, " slow search" and she started zig zagging back and fourth and within 2 minutes sat like a rock. My brother looked at me and said," there are your keys". Sure as heck two feet down in the snow and six inches in front of her were my keys....... she never found or picked up ducks, but she sure could find someone or something in the snow
 
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