Canine coached in avalanche rescue
Published Friday, December 23, 2011 5:30PM MST
The warm weather is great for outdoor enthusiasts, but if you're planning a trip to the back country, check the conditions as the snowpack is prone to avalanches this time of year.
Parks Canada is training a new service dog to help them locate people who do get caught up in an avalanche.
Cazz is from the RCMP's breeding program and is learning how to locate and rescue people from snow slides.
The 21-month-old German Sheppard graduated from police dog training school with flying colors in September and is now working in the snow.
Handler Mike Henderson says Cazz has amazing search ability and predicts the pup will have a long career with Parks Canada.
"He's not edgy around people, so getting into the helicopter, jumping on chair lifts, working in a team environment, he's just really nice to be around so everyone is comfortable around him," said Henderson.
On Friday, Cazz was working with the avalanche dog from Sunshine Village.
Cholo and his trainer, Tim Ricci, have spent the last four years rescuing people from snow slides and Cholo is now showing the younger dog the ropes.
The two dogs worked together just a week ago after people who were boarding out of bounds at Lake Louise triggered an avalanche.
Henderson says Cazz is learning a lot from Cholo and Ricci says Cazz is getting better every day that he is on the snow.
"On that search we were on the other day in the Lake Louise back country, he was searching fantastic, it was great to watch for sure," said Ricci.
Cazz will undergo a validation process at the end of February and then he will be recognized across the country as an avalanche rescue dog.
To check conditions in the mountain parks, visit the Canadian Avalanche Centre's website.