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Jed Boal ReportingIt's that time of year when a skier or snowmobiler in the mountains will get into trouble and need the help of Search and Rescue. The avalanche dogs and their handlers at Deer Valley are getting tuned up for the season, with a special rookie on the team.
Anthony Woerner and his avalanche search dog Whiskey have teamed up on the mountains of Deer Valley for ten years. Lila and her handler, Sue Anderson, have been on the job five years.
Andy Woerner, Ski Patrol Supervisor: “He knows the game he’s been doing it so long. You can trust the team in general.
The dogs and handlers make quite a squad, and really love to play at their jobs.
Andy Woerner, Ski Patrol Supervisor: "When snow starts to fly they know. It's a pattern they're in to. It's their funnest time of the year."
But it's time for a youthful infusion, and that's where Piper comes in. She's a four-month old shepherd mix. Piper's a puppy from the pound actually, eager to play in the game.
Chris Erkkila, Ski Patrol Supervisor: "I'll let her watch the senior dogs. She gets really amped up; she likes to watch and see what they're doing."
This year, though, Piper will primarily work on obedience and get used to her work partners.
It drives Piper wild to see the other dogs out playing and digging, but that's exactly the kind of spirit they want to see from her.
Chris Erkkila, Ski Patrol Supervisor: "We'll do small drills with her, we won't bury anything, but we'll let her go find it so it can be a positive experience so she doesn't get frustrated."
Andy Woerner, Ski Patrol Supervisor: "When we do search work, it's high pitches and woo hoo! You really get excited for the dogs and they feed off that too."
Piper thinks she's ready for her first assignment, even if she isn't quite ready to run with the big dogs.
Deer Valley does not have the avalanche terrain of other resorts and it has less access to backcountry, but the dogs are ready to work and play a back-up role at other resorts.