How Stella Gets Her Groove Back

Stella and I are warming up for the season cautiously since it has been nearly seven months since we were here last.  We would both be very sad if one of us were to suffer an injury especially so early in what will surely be a banner season.  Just like a guest needs get their body in shape to ski or ride the mountain, our avalanche dogs have to tune up their fitness and senses for the season as well. Here’s a look at how Stella and I prep for the season.

stella-on-pioneer-ridge Keeping the speed down a notch, being aware of variations in the snow surface, giving other people plenty of room, stretching before we come out and staying hydrated are all part of our routine especially now.


stella-hiking-upper-mountain Stella and I are really happy with the start of the 2012 – 2013 Season.  The mountain is already open to our office at Summit Patrol.  We have had a chance to hike around on the upper mountain and are excited to see that one more storm could open up much more terrain.


stella-ranging-toward-the-left We're warming up with some ranging drills. "Ranging" is a technique to steer the dog in a specific direction using only hand and body signals. This is an important skill during a search, allowing the dog to search a given area more efficiently.


stella-s-wet-nose A moist/wet nose captures scent particles floating in the air better than a dry nose. A handler will monitor the condition of their dog’s nose during a search. Stella’s nose is normally wet, but on occasion during an extended search I have given her a drink and re-moistened her nose. A dog’s sense of smell is significantly more developed than humans'. Humans have 5 million smell detecting cells; dogs have more than 220 million. The part of the brain that interprets smell is four times larger in dogs than humans.


Stella thought it would be fun to include some additional dog facts on each blog:
*Dogs have sweat glands in between their paws.
*Hollywood’s first canine superstar was Rin Tin Tin, a male German Shepherd found wounded during WWI in France and adopted by an American soldier, Lee Duncan.  He would sign his contracts with his paw print.
*It is much easier for dogs to learn spoken commands if they are given in conjunction with hand signals or gestures.
*A survey revealed that 33% of dog owners admit they talk to their dog on the phone while they’re away.  Stella reminded me that she just needs to have someone hold the phone up to her ear since most phones are hard to grasp with her paws (maybe the next i-phone will fix that).


Stella and I look forward to seeing you up on the mountain. Remember to give your pet some love and attention and they will return the sentiment ten-fold!