Ruby and Telli Go to School

Posted October 13, 2022


The two newest members of Beaver Creek’s Ski Patrol team were hard at work the past few days, learning all the skills they need to go from rookie to rescuer! Ruby and Telli, alongside their handlers Toby and Gavin, attended Colorado Rapid Avalanche Deployment’s Fall Course.

Alongside 42 other dog and handler teams from across the Western United States, including teams from sister mountain Vail and nearby resorts Breckenridge and Keystone, Ruby and Telli socialized, focused on obedience, and did numerous drills to build their drive, which will strengthen step-by-step into learning how to become working avalanche search and rescue dogs.

Here are some highlights they learned during their time at school: 

Ruby at CRAD Fall School
Runaway drills were a large focus in this week of training – while it may seem trivial to an observer, this is a key tactic in training for search and rescue. By understanding the dog's personality and what drives them, as well as rewarding finding someone, this practice creates a brain connection for the dogs to associate searching and finding as a proud moment. A runaway drill looks like a “quarry,” or person who is being searched for, who is given a dog's favorite toy and is tasked with running away, causing a positive commotion, and finding a hiding spot. The dog is held back for a certain amount of time to test their drive, until they are let loose to go find the quarry. Once the dog has searched and found the quarry, that quarry plays with the dog and celebrates the find with positive reinforcement and affirmation, signaling to the dog that having found the person [and the toy they are now playing tug of war with] is the best thing they could do. These drills build throughout the dog’s training to increase their search and rescue capacity, adding time to the drill, introducing different elements, and eventually forcing the dog to search with its nose to find the human scent.   

As Toby, Ruby, Gavin and Telli return to the office (mountain), they’re excited to keep working on their skills and training to become avalanche search and rescue dogs! If you see them out on the hill, make sure to ask before you say hi, as they could be focused on skills or drills to further their training. And keep watching Beaver Creek’s social media channels to follow their journey from rookie to rescuer!