Praise for barking dog in avalanche rescue

9:08 PM, Jan 7, 2014   |    comments
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KUSA - The high risk of avalanches again turned into reality in the Blue River area of Summit County Monday.

Four snowboarders narrowly avoided the flood of snow, but they had their dog with them. She was buried in an instant.

Doug Barrie and his three friends knew the mountain area well. It was backcountry snowboarding but on Barrie's family's land, and they were prepared.

"We played it pretty safe with our line on the mountain, because we knew there was a high risk of avalanche," Barrie said.

Barrie ran the same route just the day before. His dog, a lab named Sugar, wasn't far behind.

"She likes to chase us and play in the snow. She likes to hop around. She's a ski dog," Barrie said.

But she was helpless when the avalanche hit. The dog was on the mountain; Barrie was at its base. He had to look up and watch.

"I stopped and I turned around, and the whole mountain was sliding," he said.

It was wall of moving snow.

"The fracture line went for 150 to 200 yards around the whole side of the mountain," Barrie explained.

When it stopped, Sugar was gone. For 10 minutes they looked but there was no sign. Then a sound signaled hope.

"It was a little muffled. I heard it and didn't think anything of it," said Brian Donahue, one of the snowboarders. "It was just something moving. Then the second time around it was more of a bark."

It was Sugar's bark; her plea for help. In minutes, the four dug her out. First her nose, followed by the rest of her shivering body.

"She was shaking," Barrie said. "I took off my jacket and wrapped it around her and carried her down the mountain."

It was an experience Barrie, his friends, and his dog, were grateful to get through.

"We were really lucky in this situation. It could have gone much worse," Barrie said.

Summit County Rescue responded to the avalanche.

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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