Courtesy of Mt Bachelor
Shasta the avalanche rescue dog in training might be the cutest snow bunny at Mt. Bachelor, a ski area in Oregon. The 10-week-old golden retriever is the 16th pup to be a part of Mt. Bachelor's Avalanche Rescue Dog program, which has been operating for the past two decades.
Shasta's handler is Drew Clendenen, a ski patroller who has worked the area for the past nine years. With Clendenen's help, Shasta is getting to know the area, and learning to ride a snowmobile and chair lift in order to be a part of the rescue team.
The goal is that by this time next year, Shasta will be able to locate and help rescue somebody who has been trapped under snow. Though avalanches are fairly rare at Mt. Bachelor, early February of this year saw the deadliest week on record for avalanche fatalities in the United States—15 deaths, according to CNN. The majority of avalanches this year have occurred outside of Oregon, but the staff at the ski resort know it's important to be prepared.
And look at how good of a job she's doing!
Dogs like Shasta are trained to help rescue people who become trapped in an avalanche by sniffing out human scent through up to 10 feet of snow. Betsy Norsen, director of mountain operations at Mt. Bachelor, told The Bulletin that golden retrievers like Shasta are among the best breeds for avalanche rescue training because they have fun hunting through the snow. The search-and-rescue dogs are rewarded with a treat or toy for achieving their goal.
"They are actually better at traveling over avalanche terrain than humans on skis," Norsen told the newspaper.
Shasta is joining a team of three other rescue dogs at Mount Bachelor, two 8-year-old golden retrievers named Banyan and Mango, and a 9-year-old black Labrador retriever named Riggins.
We're relieved to know we can count on a team of adorable pups to rescue us in the event of an emergency—and we hope Shasta loves being a part of her new crew.