First Arizona Snowbowl avalanche dog continues training, even in summer

Ava, the first avalanche dog for the Arizona Snowbowl, is still training to save lives even without snow.

Arizona Snowbowl's first avalanche dog, Ava, and her handler, Hailey Hagerty, are meeting guests and training for winter even in the absence of snow. 

Ava and Hagerty train five days per week to get ready for winter and the possibility of needing to save someone who has been a victim of an avalanche. 

Through training activities like hide-and-seek drills, referred to as "runaways," Hagerty keeps Ava ready for action. 

"We have somebody go run and hide in the field or in the forest," said Hagerty. "We practice using her scent and her drive. So when she finds somebody, she gets to play. It's a big party." 

Ava also gets to learn positive socialization through meeting guests at the lodge who are coming to ride the scenic chair lift.

"She's very mellow. Since she's been up here since day one she got to meet so many people as a puppy. She's not really super interested in people," she said.

In addition to meeting people on the ground, Ava also trains by hopping aboard the chair lift. 

"We are really looking forward to keeping up our training this summer and keeping our training up through the fall and getting ready for this great winter we are hopefully going to have," said Hagerty. 

The scenic chair lift is open every day until Sept. 4 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. as long as the weather permits. 

The chair lift climbs to an elevation of 11,500 feet and ticket prices range from $17 to $24, depending on age. Children under 5 years old are free.

Discounted prices can be found on the Arizona Snowbowl website.

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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