The majority of rescue dogs are golden retrievers, he said, as the popular breed not only possesses those traits, but also works well with different handlers.
As to how the dogs can find a victim buried deep in the snowpack, Kanetsky said it's one of the great mysteries of ski patrolling.
"Dog's can identify the scent in the most complex of situations," Kanetsky said.
Dogs have even found an individual buried under a lift line full of people.
The human scent percolates through the snow, but once that scent reaches the surface, a dog's ability to single it out is where the mystique comes in.
To complicate the situation, a true emergency situation can include multiple patrollers, medics and even spectators; yet, a well-trained dog can narrow a search by eliminating scents by isolating scents coming from inside the snow.
At times, a dog's effort to follow a scent is so strong, the dog can look like a lasso around its neck was yanked, Kanetsky said.
"I've seen a dog walk up to a person sitting on the snow over a victim and nudge them out of the way to start digging," he said.
That's where a handler's ability to interpret a dog's reactions to the scents is useful.
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