Saturday, 7 December 2013

Colorado's youngest rescuers

I hope I never have to be rescued from an avalanche of snow and ice.

But in the unfortunate event that I do, I want Recco to be the one who does it.

Recco ready for action

She's a Golden Retriever and an integral part of Copper Mountain's rescue team.  I met her last year on a sunny winter's day in Colorado while she and her handler were performing one of their regular training sessions.

Recco is one of the youngest dogs to be Colorado Rapid Avalanche Deployment (CRAD)-certified; something that took her about two years of training and testing.   During this time, handler and dog learnt to work as a team and to conduct quick, methodical searches.

As dogs have a much better sense of smell, they can almost always find people buried in the snow faster than us, even if we're using technical equipment.

Once these dogs find the person, they offer an "alert".  This depends on individual dogs, but for Recco it is aggressive digging.

Despite being a little over two years of age when I met her, Recco had already been involved in a number of search and rescue operations.

While I'm sure she loves saving lives, her other reward for her hard work is playing with a tennis ball, stuffed toy or anything that squeaks.

She's clearly a natural-born snow lover.

Here I was rugged up and with boot warmer settings on high while she's rolling in the snow like she's frolicking on a tropical beach.

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