Sniff, Search, Save | SierraSun.com

Sniff, Search, Save

Emma Garrard/Sierra SunEric Seelenfreund loads Murphy onto a Care Flight for his first "real" helicopter ride. Dogs have to learn to ride in helicopter to become rescue dogs.

A chorus of yips, yells and barks was heard echoing throughout Alpine Meadows Ski Resort yesterday.

In conjunction with Placer County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue and the Placer County Avalanche Canine Team, Alpine Meadows hosted a full day of search and rescue training for dogs ” a ski patroller’s best friend.

Underneath the blue-bird sky, golden retrievers, labs and an array of other furry friends, sported red harnesses and barked anxiously as a Careflight helicopter started roaring.

One exercise took these canines on a flight above the parking lot.

“Flying with your dog is like the best thing ever,” said Squaw Valley Ski Patroller Chris Gray who just took his chocolate lab, Gamble, on his third helicopter flight. “At one point, Gamble was licking me in the face. He was just so happy.”

It sounds like fun and games, but training a dog to maintain composure around helicopters, which are vital in many search and rescue operations, is critical, ski patrollers said.

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While many dogs were just doing the drills for refreshers, several were going through tests to become certified for search and rescue operations.

In addition to the helicopter drill, the day’s rigorous training included searches for people and clothing articles. A separate training was also held for puppies.

” Julie Brown, Sierra Sun