Avalanche dogs play an incredibly important role among any search and rescue team in the mountains, sniffing out trouble and helping to find individuals buried in snow. Though we pray no skier, snowboarder, or general outdoor adventurer will be unfortunate enough to have an interaction with one in a real scenario, we here at Unofficial Networks are huge fans of the hardworking pups, and whenever a search and rescue dog of significance comes across our screen, we like to share their story.
Loveland Ski Area currently has three avalanche dogs. Otis, who joined the team in late 2021, Bandit, and the 10-year-old Zuma. For most dogs, the life of hard work and training would be complete and they’d be enjoying a relaxing retirement by the time they’re 10, but Zuma isn’t most dogs. He’s half Akita, a quarter husky, and, believe it or not, a quarter wolf. His status as a wolf dog made for the winter alone gives him significant advantages as an avalanche dog.
Zuma continues his work with the with the Loveland search and rescue by helping to train the other two dogs employed by the area, creating a sense of competition. Zuma is one of the first, if not the first, older dogs taking part in this manner of training.
“They are like athletes. They want to be on the field, they want to be called up. So if a working dog is on the sideline and sees other dogs performing it does create some competition and gins up their drive.” – Tanner Franti, Zuma’s Handler, according to CBS Colorado
Fortunately for us, Puma’s career as an avalanche dog isn’t limited to the mountains, as he likes to appear on his Facebook page to give everyone an update on his life every now and then. It’s absolutely worth a follow.
Image Credit: Zuma the Loveland ski patrol dog on Facebook