The bond between a dog handler and their dog is truly special. Stella and I thought it would be interesting to query some of the other Park City Mountain Resort dog teams regarding what it means to them to be a dog team.
Andrew grew up always with a dog in his household. He has been a patroller at PCMR for eight years, helping in the dog program the whole time. Last year, he brought Tremper into the program when Tremper was seven weeks old. Tremper is assimilating to the program very well. Tremper has begun some intensive training to focus his drive for finding human scent buried in the snow. Andrew said his favorite experience has been skiing down at the end of the day with Tremper running between his legs (best way to keep the dog safe from others) watching the clouds to the east lighted up by the sunset in the west, the twilight takes over the Uinta Mountains and the moon sits just over Windy Ridge. Andrew and Tremper aren’t just a dog team, they’re best friends.
Connor first laid eyes on Kenai shortly after she was born on New Year’s day nine years ago. Kenai was a puppy of Duce who was also a Park City Mountain Resort avalanche dog. At six weeks old, Kenai began her mountain orientation with Connor. As Connor said: Kenai and I are a team; we read each other’s body language, our emotions and actions play off each other, she is part of who I am and vice versa. Connor and Kenai have responded to two avalanches as a search and rescue dog team. Both times, the call was the next day after the avalanche occurred. At this point, the task is most likely a body recovery. Still the task of finding the victim is crucial to give the family closure. As Connor said, "Kenai and I come to work every day to help people in need, to improve people’s day and go home with the feeling of a job well done."
Stella, being an abandoned dog, and I, being old enough to fully appreciate how short and precious life is, both realize how blessed we are. Our complementary skills are powerful when put together. I think we both wanted our lives to have a purpose, to make a difference. Stella told me that all the dogs love their handlers the way only a dog would understand. They put their trust in our hands and will faithfully serve us all their days. After meeting with the other dogs, Stella gave me a list of rules the dogs live by that she said would enrich our lives:
o Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joy ride. o Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy. o When loved ones come home, always run to greet them. o When it’s in your best interest, practice obedience. o Let others know when they have invaded your territory. o Take naps and stretch before rising. o Run, romp and play daily. o Eat with gusto and enthusiasm. o Be loyal. o Never pretend to be something you’re not. o If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it. o When others are having a bad day, be silent, sit close by and nuzzle them gently. o Thrive on attention and let people touch you. o Avoid biting when a simple growl will do. o On hot days, drink lots of water and sit under a shady tree. o When you’re happy, dance around and wag your entire body. o No matter how often you’re scolded, don’t pout. Run right back and make friends.
The avalanche dogs have learned some great skills from their handlers. It is my opinion that we can learn some great skills from our dogs. Be safe out on the mountain.
Originally from the Pocono’s of Pennsylvania, Travis found his way to Park City three years ago and is now our grooming manager. When not in snowcat you can find him skiing or snowmobiling in the Utah backcountry or enjoying the skiing here at Park City Mountain Resort.