Grand Targhee Avalanche Dogs, or “GTK9”, is the group of handlers from the Grand Targhee Ski Patrol and their certified avalanche search and rescue dogs. GTK9 is a nonprofit organization that operates under the Grand Targhee Resort Ski Patrol and provides an additional service and safety level to the resort. Grand Targhee avalanche dog teams consist of patrollers and their dogs who work together to search avalanche areas for skiers or snowboarders.
Since the United States does not offer a centralized organization for avalanche dogs, many organizations like GTK9 utilize the Canadian Avalanche Rescue Dog Association (CARDA). CARDA is a nonprofit organization that was founded in 1978. Each team validated by CARDA is highly trained, skilled, and dedicated to achieving its mission of saving lives. Each team goes through an exceptional training program and must pass the validation exam every year.
GRAND TARGHEE RESORT AVALANCHE DOGS
GTK9 has five teams: Joe and Calvin, Dan and Tele Mundo, Heather and Levi, Casey and Mikko, and Becca and Ivy. These duos are always training and reinforcing positive techniques. They begin their training with fun and rewarding games of hide and seek, where they learn to sniff out their toy or human who is hiding out of sight. Positive rewards are a fun game of tug-o-war. As the dogs learn and progress, the game gets harder; distractions such as multiple items to find and other dogs and handlers are slowly introduced. Each dog will learn to stay focused on the task at hand. Additional training includes riding chair lifts, on the back of snowmachines, in different vehicles, and helicopters.
If you see the avalanche dogs out on the mountain make sure to ask the patrollers if you can pet or approach their dog, as they may be in training.
2021 POWDER PIGS FUNDRAISER
The Grand Targhee Avalanche Dog Foundation is a nonprofit organization that is fully funded by your support through the Powder Pigs Fundraiser and the purchase of our logo wear. Your donation supports the training, feeding, and travel of our dogs and their respective handlers. Our silent auction and raffle ticket sales are now live. Thanks for your support!
MEET THE AVALANCHE DOGS
JOE & CALVIN
BIRTHDAY: Mother’s Day, May 10, 2020
BREED: German Shepard and Brittany mix from the north end of Tetonia, Idaho
LIKES: He likes to chew slippers, chase cats, and dig holes.
LEARNING: Presently he is learning how to ride lifts, snowmobiles, and shoulders. Following in the dog prints of his mentor Otter, his future as an avalanche dog looks bright but he has a lot of work to do. Luckily he has more than enough energy for the job.
TIPS: If you see him running wild in the mountains with “Calllvinnn!!!” echoing in the hills, grab him and get him back to his handler…
DAN AND TELE MUNDO NAGY
BIRTHDAY: December 24, 2018
Born somewhere in the Wind River Reservation. She was found in a trash bag in a dumpster and was the sole survivor of a litter of puppies with a broken leg.
BREED: The Avy Squirrel | 42 lbs of Fury | 14″ Tall
LIKES: She loves to ski, mountain bike, rock scramble, swim, and be 11/10 stoked at all times.
- 2019-2020 GTK9 Sportsmanship Award
- 2020 Time Magazine Dog of the Year
- Original Cast Member of the Real Housedogs of Teton Valley
- Her life story inspired Homeward Bound
- She was a stunt double in 3 of the Air Bud movies
HEATHER AND LEVI “WILD MAN” MUNN
BIRTHDAY: Wyoming born, Idaho raised
BREED: Levi is a mutt of the first order, part border collie part gazelle, part velociraptor
LIKES: When he isn’t focused on his avalanche rescue job Levi enjoys a good game of fetch with his frisbee, going for bike rides, or hanging on the boat with his handler.
DEDICATION: Levi has established himself as a hard-working, always at the ready dog that his border collie roots suggest. During an excavation of a buried subject, Levi tugs with a force of a thousand dogs.
CASEY AND MIKKO “MEATBALL”
BIRTHDAY: March 13, 2017
BREED: Yellow Lab
FAVORITE TREAT: Meatballs
FAVORITE GAME: Tug or fetching anything from the water.
DEDICATION: Born to be a search dog, Mikko cut his teeth in Phoenix rescuing humans from sunburn, but found his true calling searching for humans in the snow in the Tetons! He’s an aggressive searcher, an aggressive napper, and is always happy to do either.
BECCA AND IVY “The Red Rocket”
BREED: Red Lab
FAVORITE PASTIME: When not at work, she loves romping on & off trails around Teton Valley and keeping the family chickens and her non-patrol canine sister, Arlo, in line!
DEDICATION:Ivy’s got some serious enthusiasm for all things involved with being an Avalanche Dog, and you may hear about it as her barking rings out on that first lift ride of the morning! She loves “helping” to get the mountain ready for the day on AM sweep and is ALWAYS ready to head out the door for a ski run, training or a call!