Kicking Horse Safety Manager Kyle Hale pictured with avalanche dog in-training Gibson.

Local grateful for dog’s keen sense of smell

A timely discovery by an avalanche dog in-training helped one Goldenite save $700.

Gibson will certainly make more important discoveries in her career as an avalanche rescue dog, but she’s clearly not doing so badly up to this point in her training.

In fact, she’s already saved one grateful Goldenite nearly $700.

On Apr. 9, John Lush was skiing with his brother in-law and niece at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort when they stopped for a bite to eat at Eagle’s Eye.

When it was time to pay, Lush unzipped his jacket pocket but found only his keys, having forgotten his wallet at home.

After lunch, Lush and his group skied into Crystal Bowl – his brother-in-law having covered his portion of the bill – where he decided to pull off a few jumps to impress his niece.

“I launched the jump out of the bottom there…I came down on it pretty quick and just let my skis loose and caught my right tip,” Lush recalled.

“When I got up I lost my bearings pretty decently and didn’t notice that my coat (pocket) was open.”

At the bottom of the hill, Lush noticed his open pocket and came to the painful realization that he’d lost his only set of keys for his truck.

“I went up…retraced all of my steps and went right back to that spot. I looked all through and couldn’t find anything. It was only about a 10 by 10 foot area…I thought I did a pretty good job of scouring (around).”

After repeated calls to guest services – Lush jokes that they must have gotten sick of him calling – he decided to replace his ignition cylinder, since his truck is fairly old and that would cost about the same as replacing the keys. The entire process was due to cost him around $700.

That’s when he got the call he’d been waiting for.

“They were just about to do my truck and guest services called and they found my keys,” Lush said.

“I was pretty happy not to spend that money.”

Gibson was Lush’s unlikely hero.

Kyle Hale, the Mountain Safety Manager at Kicking Horse, was in charge of the avalanche dog in-training at the time that Lush’s keys were found.

“We do a lot of training at the hill so we were just looking in our search site…she just ran over to an area in the snow, gave it a little paw dig and out popped a set of keys,” Hale said.

Hale hopes to have Gibson fully certified by next winter, and if the early returns are any indication, she’ll fare quite well as an avalanche dog.

“She’s finding stuff so that’s good,” he said.

And of course, no good deed should go unrewarded.

“I’ve got this slingshot that I’m going to give to (Gibson) that’s kinda like this ball and slingshot to help [her] go find more stuff,” Lush said.

“The dog saved me 700 bucks.”