A video of a search and rescue dog unwinding after a long day of work by sliding down a snowy mountainside has gone viral. Currently, the video has over 1.3 million views.
Chris Child posted the video of his dog, Truckee, to his Facebook page. The dog slides more than 200 feet, wagging his tail and kicking his feet up in the air. It has been shared over 20,000 times.
— SkyRun North Tahoe (@SkyRunNTahoe) March 10, 2017
Chris Child is a ski patroller and the handler of Truckee, a 5-year-old Labrador Retriever and search and rescue dog for Heavenly Ski Resort in South Lake Tahoe. If an avalanche happened, Truckee and his handler would be among the first on the scene to look for survivors.
This isn’t Truckee’s first time on the internet. Chris Child frequently shares pictures on his Instagram of the dog, and the Heavenly Ski Resort website has a page called “Spotlight on Truckee.” Here, we get a closer look at Truckee’s life and training.
Truckee, like the other search and rescue dogs at Heavenly, perform mock rescues where volunteers bury themselves in the ice and the dogs have to find them. This helps keep the dogs’ training and senses sharp and ensures they’ll be ready for action in the event of a real emergency. Dogs are used by search and rescue teams because they can track scents that are up to a mile away.
Inside a dog’s long nose, folded passageways called turbinates provide a greater surface area for smells to be processed. A bloodhound has around 300 million smell sensors in this area, while a human has only about 5 million.
“There’s a lot more to being an avalanche dog than being completely adorable—although that’s obviously an important part!”
Being athletic is another important part of Truckee’s training and ability. If Truckee were a weak and tired dog, he wouldn’t be able to keep up with the intense demands of a real-life avalanche rescue mission. In the event that time were of the essence, with people trapped under the snow and waiting for help, stamina in a rescue dog would be of utmost importance.
Therefore, Truckee gets a lot of exercise. The video of him sledding shows him enjoying some welcome and playful relaxation. Truckee has to be intelligent and have a sense of fun to figure out that sliding down a mountain conserves more energy than running down it, but his sense of fun is apparent in the video.
Truckee has also been trained around helicopters.
Another video from the Heavenly Mountain Ski Resort YouTube page shows more details about Truckee, Chris Child, their relationship, and the duties of a search and rescue dog and handler.
Chris Child brings Truckee to the site of a mock avalanche for training purposes, where Truckee has to locate two people buried in the snow and a foreign article. This was Truckee’s test to become an official Heavenly Ski Resort search and rescue dog, and he passed.
Truckee is a Labrador, and another trainer and ski patroller comments on why the Labrador is a good dog to have on an avalanche rescue team.
“He searches at a hundred miles an hour. You know, Labradors are so great for their nice, just blind drive. They have a willingness to complete a task, which makes them great search dogs.”
Labradors are considered suited for many tasks that require difficult and intense training for their intelligence and willingness to please. For example, they are often chosen as guide dogs for the blind bomb-sniffing dogs.
As we can see from the video, Truckee retains the good humor and fun-loving nature Labradors are also known for!
[Featured Image by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images]