By HANNAH SIEVERT
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY NEWS
She’s a little dog with a big job ahead of her.
Her name is Shasta and she’s a 9-week old Golden Retriever born in Ellensburg, Washington.
She’s also the newest member of Mt. Bachelor’s Avalanche Rescue Dog team.
Monday was her fourth day at work.
“She’s getting used to the snow, sites and sounds,” said Drew Clendenen, a patrol training supervisor at Mt. Bachelor and Shasta’s owner. “It’s all new for her, so the goal for the next three months is to get her used to the mountain environment.”
Shasta joins three other avalanche patrol dogs — Riggings, Mango and Banyon — in assisting the mountain’s ski patrol team.
“There’s no patroller or anyone that can travel over avalanche debris at the speed a dog can travel, so they’re excellent partners for our patrollers here on the mountain,” Leigh Capozzi, Mt. Bachelor’s brand and marketing director, said.
In the summer, Clendenen will work on her basic obedience skills.
“Then, coming back into the beginning of next winter, it’ll be into focused training on using her nose to find things buried in the snow,” Clendenen said.
There’s a lot to learn, but Shasta is up for the job.
“She’s loving the snow, loves to eat it now, roll around,” Clendenen said.
Clendenen is excited to own a patrol dog after being a secondary handler to Banyon for years.
He named her after Mt. Shasta, where Clendenen first started ski patrolling.
“It’s an awesome life for a dog and for the human as well,” Clendenen said.