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ski patrol dogs

Meet Lida and Carson, Purgatory’s Ski Patrol Dogs

Dogs make everything better. And today, for National Puppy Day, Purgatory would like to introduce the resort’s two ski patrol dogs — Lida and Carson.

Lida and Carson are both American Field Labradors and are brother and sister (from different litters). Lida is 4-years-old and the certified ski patrol dog. Carson is 3-years-old, and is currently in training. The dogs have been at Purgatory Resort for two seasons now.

“Having dogs on the mountain primarily raises awareness about the winter environment,” said Greg French, director of ski patrol at Purgatory Resort. “Guests will ask us about the dogs and we have a chance to inform them and tell them what they do up here. The dogs are ambassadors, too, of Purgatory.”

Training for the dogs started at a young age, with the two beginning at the resort in the summer time. First steps included familiarization and socialization. “The main goal in the first year is exposing them to a lot of different stimuli,” said French.

After the first year, new exercises were integrated into their training, including hide & seek with their favorite toy, which progressively becomes more difficult over time. Come winter, the exercise is moved to the snow. The toy, along with the dog’s handler, are then placed in a snow-covered hole, and the dogs must dig out their handler.

Once they’ve mastered these skills, the dogs must then get their certification. The certification process is a week long, and both the dog and the handler are evaluated. Lida attended a certification course in Stevens Pass, Washington.

The ski patrol dogs love meeting Purgatory guests; just make sure to ask first. “When they’re in their uniform, they’re working,” stated French. “But the dogs would love to meet you.”