Now that the snow is back, so are the courageous pups and with a new addition.
“It’s amazing to watch these dogs, especially our more experienced dogs work,” said Alex Sypek a Ski Patrol member for Mt. Bachelor.
The Mt. Bachelor avalanche dogs are back on the job.
“Find people buried in snow faster than I ever imagined,” Sypek said.
The Mt. Bachelor avalanche dog program has been around since the 1990s, with several canine companions making sure winter sports enthusiasts are safe.
“Currently, we have five dogs that are actively working up at Mt. Bachelor,” said Betsy Norsen the Director of Mountain Operations at Mt. Bachelor.
The teams’ newest addition is a five and a half month-old border collie named Ruddy.
Ruddy was found on an Idaho cattle ranch, and will be getting used to his new snowy surroundings during this season.
He’s named after the ruddy species of duck, and his peculiar title grew on the team.
“Especially with a former patroller here who patrolled here for a long time. He texted me and said, ‘Hey, I love the name,’ so that kind of solidified it,” said Sypek, who is Ruddy’s trainer and owner.
As for last year’s rookie, Shasta, she is back for another year on the slopes.
“She’s real comfortable with the mountain lifestyle right now and all the sights and sounds up here but she will be learning how to find someone that’s buried in the snow and do that with just her nose,” said Drew Clendenen a Training Supervisor at Mt. Bachelor.
Though the dogs have never had to uncover a buried visitor, they’re a helpful back-up in case patrol teams need a quick response.
As they are trained to find folks using a game like hide and seek, all of their important work feels like play.
“If you do want to say hi to a dog, please always ask a handler first to pet them or say hi. They are working dogs,” Norsen said.
Working dogs who not only provide a service to the mountain, but smiles as well.