Welcome to the Telluride Avalanche Dogs, where courage and cuteness converge on the snowy slopes of the Telluride Ski Resort. Our team is composed of six incredible canines: Mona, Lady Bee, Sadie, Stella, Gretchen, and Pika. These adorable pooches may steal your heart with their puppy eyes, but don't let that fool you. They are highly trained professionals, dedicated to their critical role in rescuing skiers buried in avalanches.
Set against the backdrop of the awe-inspiring Telluride Ski Resort, these dogs and their human handlers navigate epic terrain, venturing into the wildest corners of this winter paradise. Each dog forms an unbreakable bond with their handler, built upon trust, mutual respect, and countless hours of intensive training. They are an inseparable duo, working together seamlessly to save lives and provide comfort in the face of adversity.
Within this breathtaking landscape, the Telluride Avalanche Dogs encapsulate a tremendous commitment to safety designed as backup to the adventurous sport we all love. The resort's majestic peaks and pristine snow are a testament to the untamed beauty that these dogs and their handlers dedicate themselves to protect. Each team's unwavering devotion and tireless efforts serve as a reminder that amidst the thrill of the slopes, there exists a compassionate force that stands ready to ensure the well-being of all who venture into these majestic mountains.
Pika, who is 9 weeks old currently [March '22] is sneakily named for a legacy patroller.
She never knew Peter Inglis, PI, but it's hidden in her name. And she's a cute, tan colored, alpine animal, as well, like the high mountain rabbit-rodent. Karl Welter is training her to become a Telluride Avalanche Dog.
Mona is a 6 year old Black Labrador retriever from the Ouray valley. Like all good retrievers her favorite thing in the world is to find things. She has been working hard getting ready for the upcoming ski season. She spends her summer on the trail and swimming in the alpine lakes of the San Juan. She can't get enough of that water!
While she does have a beautiful mysterious smile, her namesake is not the Mona Lisa, but former Ski Patroller Mona Wilcox.
Companion: Erik Larsen
Bee is so excited about the ski season. Right now she staring out the window at changing leaves and snow covered peaks and I know that soon she will be going to work every day. Spending every winter of her life with the Telluride Ski Patrol, she is ready to grab her rescue harness and head to the top of the mountain to begin another season of avalanche rescue work.
Companion: Kim & Gary Richard
Gretchen is a yellow lab puppy from Craig Colorado. She started coming up onto the ski mountain when she was 12 weeks old in the winter of 19-20. She’s excited to progress through her training as Telluride’s newest avalanche dog. Between long naps by the wood stove at Patrol Head Quarters, she’s eager to play around in the snow and find patrollers buried in dog holes. It’s been remarkable to watch her develop and learn her job this season. She looks forward to a summer of job related training and returning to the mountain next winter.
Sadie is a 5 year old professional working Avalanche Rescue Dog in Telluride and the surrounding regions. Every day she rides a ski lift, snowmobile, and runs to her job. Winter is her favorite time of the year and ski patrolling is her calling in life! When the snow isn't falling her other hobbies are : pheasant and duck hunting in the fall, going on long hikes in the summer with her mom, and retrieving anything!
Companion: Andy Bagnell
Stella is 4.5 years old McNab Border Collie. The McNab is a specific breed of herd dog bred for their agility and ability to run distances of up to 100 miles a day while herding cattle. Stella runs about 4-5 miles daily in the summer with Michael or his family. She often runs 10 miles plus in the winter at the ski area. She loves humans, dogs, snow and lots of affection. She is afraid of cows and horses. She loves her job and has a very high energy approach to her work.
Companion: Michael Lane
Ellie, sister of Dulce
Dulce, sister of Ellie
My adventures with Wiley started when we picked him up from a Montrose breeder in May of 2006. He was one of two golden labs out of a litter of chocolate labs. He was born in April and started his training on the ski area the following May.
It was amazing to see how quickly he learned from the senior avalanche dogs on the team. His favorite things were avalanche rescue drills, running off the hill at the end of the day, and riding in the dog sled. We grew up together and he was right there when I got married and brought home our baby daughter a few years later.
Looking back on the last 14 years I would say he lived his best possible life. I would like to thank the Telluride Avalanche Dog association and all of our donors for all their support over the years.