Zuma: Loveland Ski Search and Rescue dog that's too good at his job to retire
The dog is half Akita, a quarter husky, and a quarter w`olf. He's also the oldest dog by several years at Loveland Ski Resort, the other two dogs in the program are still learning and training to become certified. Thankfully for both those young dogs and their handlers, Zuma is still around to show them the ropes of how to go about searching avalanche debris after a slide. A part of that comes from a sense of competition. "They are like athletes," Tanner Franti, Zuma's handler said. "They want to be on the field, they want to be called up. So if a working dog is on the sideline and sees other dogs performing it does create some competition and gins up their drive."
Zuma had to learn all of this on his own. Loveland Ski Resort now utilises a cycling system for search and rescue dogs, allowing the older dogs to show the younger dogs how things work but that's just started with Zuma. The dog may be 10 now and in the older part of his career but his genetic advantages are keeping him in the game longer than most.
"You will see Zuma with some genetic advantages with his long legs and lighter body. He is built to run and built to be in the snow," Franti said.
He's become a source of comfort not only for skiers and riders on the mountain but for his coworkers too. Having the reliable and consistent Zuma by his side on rescues and recoveries gives Franti the extra tools he needs to be effective and successful.
"Anytime he has put his nose down I'm confident he is on a sent and anytime he starts digging we will always find something there," Franti said. "Another reason we still have confidence with him is we are still getting consistent alerts through our training and the things we put him through."
His owner, Mary Lorch, has a long history with Loveland herself as a ski patroller and volunteer. She admitted she is proud of the dog, but that's not what comes to mind when she thinks about his legacy.
"It's not about me, I just love to see what he is doing," Lorch said, laughing.
One of the largest lessons Franti said the dogs provide is that no matter how good a dog, rescue team or helicopter is at finding someone trapped in the snow the best bet is still a well-equipped friend nearby, showcasing the need to keep up to date on avalanche training and equipment when going in dicey areas.
If you want to see more of Zuma, you can check out his Facebook page. Zuma loves little bits of hot dog and to be scratched on his booty, according to CBS News Colorado Mountain Newsroom Reporter Spencer Wilson.
Source: CBS Colorado