C-RAD, a Summit County nonprofit, is leader for avalanche dog training

In the snow-covered Colorado mountains, man’s best friend can quickly become man’s best chance at survival.

Humans have put dogs to work for hundreds of years, but it was only a few decades ago that they were brought in as a unique and crucial tool in avalanche recovery and rescue.

While training the canines for this line of work is objectively adorable to witness — dogs in the snow! — the lessons learned are as serious as the life or death situations the teams face every winter.

And Colorado Rapid Avalanche Deployment, perhaps better known as C-RAD, has been rising to the challenge for decades.

While C-RAD does not respond to incidents on its own, its roughly 100 members are trained and partner with various other organizations — such as sheriff’s offices, ski patrol teams, and search and rescue groups — to help with avalanche rescues and recoveries. The training C-RAD provides keeps those dog-handler teams at the top of their game.

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