Bred to be a Hero | Blog | KUED.org

Bred to be a Hero

Marguerite Van Komen

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Marguerite Van Komen is a Senior Patrolman at Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort, as well as an acitve member of Wasatch Backcountry Rescue. She is currently training Frankie, a black lab puppy, to be an avalanche rescue dog.Read more

A lot goes into selecting a quality search and rescue dog. Long before the pups are a twinkle in their parent's eyes, responsible and knowledgeable breeders are looking at great traits, qualities, and temperament in their dogs. We chose to work with Gypsy Oak Retrievers. They specialize in training exceptional field trial/hunting dogs. They recommended two outstanding pups, and we ended up with a litter of nine amazingly alert and intelligent Black Labradors. Each wore a different color collar so we could tell them apart. Frankie wore a green one so the name his breeders gave him was, "The Hulk."

 We hit if off right from the start. At three weeks old, barely having the sense of sight, he would follow me around with just a whistler or two. By seven weeks he was retrieving birds, bigger than himself, with the heart of a lion. Temperament testing is done right at 49 days old. Not really a pass or fail test, it's a way to what traits the pups have, and give you an idea of what you might see for personality in a year or two. Frankie really shined that day, full of confidence and forgiveness, and that's all we needed to reaffirm our already great connection. Ever since then, Frankie and I have been attached at the hip. 

Everyday has been an opportunity to train, learn, and grow together. As soon as there is enough snow to dig some dog holes, we will be looking forward to completing our inbounds avalanche search test and then quickly certify for our out-of-bound search ability as well.

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