Dogs at Tamarack Resort trained to find someone in an avalanche

Dog does training drills frequently
Posted at 7:49 AM, Feb 08, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-08 09:51:25-05

It may feel like Spring here in the Treasure Valley, but  area ski resorts are still open.

It's well known that ski resorts have ski patrol in the event of an emergency, but some may not know that Tamarack Resort employs several dogs.

"He loves it. He loves to go to work everyday. He gets fired up," said Chris Demo, Tamarack Ski Patrol. 

Demo has been a ski patroller at Tamarack resort for five years. He works alongside his best friend. 

"We originally just adopted Mac just as a pet and then we tried it out to see if he had any drive or interest in doing the ski patrol avalanche dog stuff and he picked it right up and loved it," said Demo

Mac may be shy, but when it comes to his job, he's quite the opposite. He's trained to rescue someone in the event of an avalanche. 

"So, if somebody were to get buried, he could find them in the snow," said Demo. 

Mac started training when he was about a year and a half old. 

"And you just start making it incrementally more and more difficult until eventually you're doing full snow burials, multiple burials, or article searches where he has no idea where it is and you just let him go on the snow field and he finds them," said Demo. 

Although Mac has never had to rescue anyone, he's prepared by doing many training drills.

"I'll help train with mac in the sense that Chris Demo, his handler, buries me in the snow, uses me because I'm one of the smellier patrollers," said Christian Tuttle, Tamarack Ski Patrol. 

A ski patroller gets into the snow cave and then blocks of snow are put over the entrance.

"Usually hang out there from anywhere from ten to twenty minutes to allow our human scent to come up through the snow," said Tuttle.

That's when Chris and Mac are dispatched to the scene.

"Once Chris and mac are on the scene, it's pretty quick," stated Tuttle. 

Ski patrol says, every time Mac has done a drill, he's found the person within five minutes. 

"It's a lot of fun to work with the dogs as essentially a giant 200 pound toy they get to find," said Tuttle. 

As for Demo, he says he just like spending time with Mac at work. 

"Like this morning, we rode the snowmobile up together in fresh powder and he's just like super excited to be at work everyday and I just vibe off that," said Demo. 

Demo says the dogs don't need to be any specific breed. Mac is an Australian Shepard mix. He says they have four avalanche dogs at Tamarack.