Puppy has big dreams of becoming an avalanche rescue dog

Skiers might notice a young lady out with her human mom on the ski hill this winter, learning the ropes and figuring out how to ski alongside everyone else.

Her name is Chilko, and she’s a black Labrador retriever puppy. She will be out with her human mom, Lisa Roddick, on the slopes this winter, and has big dreams of becoming an avalanche rescue dog.

Over the course of the winter, Chilko will be chilling with her mom, and they will have plenty of time to get to know each other.

Chilko comes from a breeder that has eight other dogs successful in the Canadian Avalanche Rescue Dog Association (CARDA) program. The woman raises the puppies, and picks the right dog to match the new owner, Roddick explained.

“She spends every day for the first eight weeks getting to know them, so she understands what their personalities are like,” Roddick said. “I’ve only had her for two months, so we’re just getting to know each other.”

At nearly five months old, Chilko is a ball of energy, and likes to chew on everything. She really enjoys food, and will do anything for a good treat. When she’s being good, her favourite treat is duck jerky.

“She’s a little crazy. She really, really likes food. Anything that she gets to eat gets her pretty stoked,” Roddick said.

Already, Chilko is getting used to life in the snow. She doesn’t seem to mind the snow cats driving around, the snowmobiles that go by, or the skiers that zoom past her.

Off the slopes, Chilko enjoys playing hide and seek in the forest, and going up to the Bush Party trail, because there’s lots of room to run around and great stumps to hide behind when she’s playing hide and seek.

At home, her favourite toy is part of an old fleece sweater she likes to play tug with.

For now, Chilko will go to work at the ski hill with Roddick, who works as ski patrol, and learn from other avalanche dog handlers who work there. Chilko is also a member of Golden and District Search and Rescue, with her mom.

“It’s another way to grow in my job at work. I’ve taken avalanche courses and first aid courses, and now I get to learn something new,” said Roddick. “It’s going to be a learning process. She’s been up the gondola a few times already.

While Chilko aims to become an avalanche rescue dog, she has a bit of time to just be a puppy before the hard work begins.

“I think it will be super fun, and I think it will go well. For the first six months, she’s a puppy, and I get to have fun with her. We’ll build a great relationship, we will do some basic obedience, and after that we will work on the avalanche training stuff,” Roddick said.

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