Travels With Aspen Ski Patrol Dog Jane
by Aspen Ski Patrol
| on December 18th, 2010 | in Features
Jane chilling out
Jane (my 5 year old black lab), my boyfriend, and I recently took a 3,000 mile road trip to Northern California for some adventure. Everywhere we went, the same dog issues kept popping up.
First was the dilemma of where Jane would ride in a truck that was loaded to capacity with human toys, gear, and food. She has been kennel trained since she was a puppy, so that seemed to make the most sense. Just after we had secured her kennel in the back of the truck we realized that the California coast was known for its foggy, wet, cold and rainy conditions. How could we keep Jane warm, dry and comfortable in her kennel? A fleece slip cover for her kennel provided warmth and mild protection from moisture. Since I have returned from the trip I found more commerically available kennel covers from places like Cabela’s
. The kennel was working magic for Jane doubling as a safe spot for her once we had gotten to our destination. However, the kennel did present a rather large dilemma for Jane as she is a very active dog accustomed to being in a large yard or at work on Aspen Mountain during the day. How could she get the necessary exercise and stimulation to keep her happy throughout the road trip?
Finding places along our drive that would be suitable, safe, and fun for Jane became a bit of a mission. When we would see a big beach, a body of water, a patch of grass, a park, a mountain or a trail we would pull over and give Jane a break from her kennel. As you can imagine there were times when none of the above mentioned places were available, so a long, high-speed walk on a sidewalk or through a cement parking lot had to make due. It became evident that creativity would play a big role in keeping Jane happy and exercised. Some activities we found to really work for her were: running in the sand on the beach, playing in the waves, sprinting toward the giant flocks of seagulls, finding the perfect stick to chew on, roll on, chase after. If there was a body of water available we would throw the stick there for her as swimming can be a great way to tire out your dog (low impact too!) Towels were a key ingredient so Jane could be towel dried before going back into her kennel as it was rather cold along the Northern California Coast in the back of a truck.
Also, when it was available, we would have our meals in an area where Jane could also get out of her kennel to stretch, drink water and see the world. I think that external and environmental stimulation can also help to tire out your dog. A walk through a busy street, or something as simple as a brand new place with new a different smells works wonders! (especially if you have a smaller dog that requires less physical activity)
Keeping Jane warm, dry and comfortable was the last issue that we had. We had to be mindful of this because Jane slept in the tent with us and nights did get quite cold and very wet. Jane slept at our feet on her Ruff Wear Highlands bed
and wore her Ruffwear K-9 Overcoat
if the temperatures required. We also had an extra sleeping bag between us two humans as I am known to get very cold, so Jane and I shared this bag as well on the coldest, wettest nights. Jane would wear her Ruffwear K-9 Overcoat in her kennel on cold travel days as well, which in turn gave me piece of mind knowing that she was comfortable.
Having Jane with us on this trip definitely changed the itinerary and the overall mission of the vacation, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I can honestly say that she also had a blast exploring Northern California with us. There were a couple of ingredients that MADE this trip….
First, all of the Ruffwear gear that we had was a major blessing and made everything from eating to playing to traveling to sleeping easier. Additional key pieces were:
(a safety light for night time adventure… a way to keep an eye on your dog in the dark… especially if she is jet black)
Cinch top and the Quencher collapsable food & water bowls
This was the first, but will definitely NOT be the last road trip for Jane and I so I am certain we will find easier and better methods of play and travel as we get more trips under our belt/collar.
Trials of an Out of Season Avy Dog
by Aspen Ski Patrol
| on July 1st, 2010 | in Features
My name is Ali Wade. I am a ski patroller in Aspen, Colorado, and I handle an avalanche search and rescue dog. Jane is a black Labrador and is almost five years old. She was certified as a “basic search and rescue dog” at 18 months and has since obtained intermediate and advanced certifications for avalanche search and rescue.
Jane is the first dog I’ve trained. I learned the different techniques and excersizes through other handlers around the country as well as from a bi-annual seminar hosted by Wasatch Backcountry Rescue out of Alta, Utah.
As a handler of a working dog, I find it important and quite to challenge my dog on a routine basis. Simple things like stepping over or up onto an object or more advanced problems like finding a hidden object and having to problem solve around an obstacle to retrieve the object are a few ideas.
Make sure you use one command and stick with it…. such as “over” or “find-it,” and reward your dog thouroughly. I was told that the sillier you make yourself look, sound and feel while you are praising your dog the more they will appreciate it. (I prefer praise and pats because my lab is a food nut and cannot think about anything at all when she smells food… but feel free to use food as a reward.)
Start easy and work your way up. Start by getting your dog to jump up onto a park bench with an “up” command, but be careful she doesn’t get a paw caught in the slats. Then as your dog recognizes the command and is happy to do it for the reward, find something higher to get her onto—a retaining wall, a large rock… Use your imagination and have fun with this.
This is a picture of Jane and I getting the frisbee off the roof, where I accidentally threw it. I know it seems kind of silly, and it really was a lot of fun. Given that Colorado only has snow for about 7 months out of the year, Jane and I cannot practice in the snow everyday, so these are the kind of things that I do to keep her mind sharp.
A little side note: She would not do this without her work harness on. It was as if she knew that she would be safer with the harness on and became immediately mindful once she was in uniform.
Please be careful with your dogs and yourselves and don’t try anything too crazy…
—Ali And Jane