For avalanche dogs, snow days are work days. Take for instance Mason, the youngest Golden Retriever working in seach and rescue at Copper Mountain in Colorado.
“In an avalanche, time is of the essence for saving somebody,” Mason’s handler Chris Gray tells Camping with Dogs, which produced a video on the team (see a sneak peek below—click here for the full video). In the event of an avalanche, the nearest dog team is loaded into a helicopter and rushed to the scene. The dogs are trained to find humans buried under the snow—once a dog signals, the handler is able to dig out the trapped individual.
According to a 1992 Swiss study, avalanche victims found within 15 minutes of being buried have a 90 percent chance of a survival—twenty minutes later, that chance drops to only 30 percent.
But to Mason, this serious work is all just fun and games. “Searching is a game of hide-and-seek for the dog,” says Gray.
See him in action here: