Avalanche Dogs on Summer Break – Part 1 – Lēif

Anyone who follows Ruffwear knows that we proudly partner with Avalanche Rescue Dogs and their handlers across the country and internationally. These dogs and handlers work tirelessly all winter long to make sure that their respective territories are safe for winter recreation and train to expediently locate victims caught in an avalanche in an effort to save lives.

As the days grow longer and thoughts of snow-white adventures turn into dreams of sunny backcountry bliss, river trips and beach time, we started to wonder what our avi-dog friends were up to. Over the next few months, we will be sharing their summer stories of adventure and or relaxation with you. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do.

This first installment of “Avalanche Dogs on Summer Break” comes to us from Shannon Finch and her four-legged partner Lēif.

Lēif in his Ruffwear K-9 Float Coat

Lēif works as an avalanche rescue dog at Sundance Ski Resort in Utah. Last season – winter of 2012-13 – was his first season on patrol. We wrapped up the season in April and he was 7 months old. We packed our things and left Utah – we were California bound. 

I spend my summers working as a whitewater kayak instructor and river guide. Lēif spends his days working at the river store greeting guests and making friends, some days he gets to join me at the lake for our flat water kayak lessons. Last week Lēif got to join me on a five day river trip!

His first trip into the backcountry, his first river trip, his first time sleeping with me outside and his first time in a canoe. It was a canoe trip in the Black Canyon of the Colorado, just below Hoover Dam. Lēif had his own little dry bag packed with his food and a chew toy. I set him up a nice little bed in my canoe on his Ruffwear Highlands Bed. photo 2He proudly wore his K-9 Float Coat all week and loved swimming in the water and chasing ducks.

This trip was with 20 8th graders. They absolutely loved having Lēif along for the adventure. We went on side hikes up ropes and boulders. Lēif did great on the hikes making his way to the top every time. In the mornings I would wake up and make coffee for the crew and breakfast for the kids and Lēif would slowly make his way around camp making sure everything was in order.

He loved the trip which made me so happy. A snow dog in the winter and a river dog by my side in the summer.  Lucky little guy. I cant imagine life without him. Off for adventure.

Stay tuned for more Avi-Dog summer adventures!

2 comments

  1. what an awesome story! Leif, you’re amazing! What a blessing your human is to you to steward you in such an adventurous life! and what a blessing you are to others!

  2. Michelle · ·

    I’m SO excited to see an English Shepherd as an avalanche dog!

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