WBR selects puppies from litters born in January/February, and play/train them for their future work from puppyhood. By the end of their first full winter they are operational for the ski area. Dogs are natural searchers; with proper upbringing, training, and rewards they would rather find people under the snow than anything else. Our dogs generally give 10 years of active service.
Once we select the dog we start training it with basic commands and obedience training. At this time the new puppy is a Level “C” or Candidate Rescue Dog. At 12 months we have started to train the dog in searching for human victims in the snow and they do testing within there own resort. They are now eligible to search within there home ski resort and are considered a Level “B” Ski Area Operational Dog. Although they are well on there way in training they are still new to the game and this is serious training time.
The Rescue Dog is ready and eligible to test Level ”A” Avalanche Search and Rescue Dog at eighteen months of age. At this time the dog travels to another resort where it is tested with their handler by evaluators that set up and grade them as a team. When a dog team tests to the Level “A” status they are now available to respond outside of the ski resort into the back country for the local sheriffs agency. This is a fully trained dog team and members responding as professionals for the Sheriff as the Wasatch Backcountry Rescue.