In 2019, the Big Bear Mountain Resort (BBMR) Patrol department added a furry, 4-legged recruit named Nala to assist with avalanche and search rescue. Nala celebrates her birthday on New Year’s day, so we're dedicating January, which also happens to be NSAA National Safety Awareness Month*, to our golden retriever and border collie mix by asking her handler, Snow Summit’s Patrol Director Chris O’Connell a few questions about everybody’s favorite Patrol pup.
Breed: Golden Retriever/Border Collie
DOB: 01/01/2019
Training: Avalanche Search and Rescue
Q: What are some of Nala's favorite activities?
A: Playing with her ball, playing games, and riding on snowmobiles.

Q: How long will it take Nala to get certified?
A: The certification process takes 2-3 years. Right now she is learning obedience skills before we will travel to Wyoming in March to attend the American Avalanche Institute's K9 Training course, which is based on the Canadian Avalanche Rescue Dog Association (CARDA), Swiss Alpine Rescue (ARS) and the Wasatch Backcountry Rescue (WBR) winter courses.

Nala the Patrol Dog with a lake view

Q: Does she ever have to re-test or get re-certified?
A: All rescue teams, including dogs, have to re-certify every 2 years.

Q: What are Nala's specialties?
A: She’s training for certification in avalanche search and rescue.

Q: When does she come to the mountain?
A: We bring Nala to the mountain 4-5 days a week throughout the season.

Nala the Patrol Dog kisses

Q: What type of training does she do?
A: We do a lot of hide and seek and puzzle games where we hide or burry scented items for her to find.

Q: What happens when she finds the item(s)?
A: She gets to play with her special toy.

Q: What a typical winter day like for Nala?
A: She loves to run around and play when we get to the mountain in the morning, then we play at least 3 training games per day. When we are not out training, she’s usually at the Patrol station playing with her favorite ball or frisbee.

Q: Does Nala work in the summer?
A: Yes, we work with Nala in the summer as well. She loves to run down the bike park trails when we patrol the mountain.

Nala the Patrol Dog rides

Q: Can the public pet Nala?
A: Yes, but we ask guests to get permission before approaching or petting her. She’s very friendly and loves interacting with people, but sometimes we may have to decline if she’s doing a training exercise.

Nala the Patrol Dog on a snowy chair

*The National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) and ski resorts nationwide host National Safety Awareness Month, an endeavor strongly supported by the California Ski Industry Association™ (CSIA).

Shop Nala's Pet Collection

Shop adventure essentials for your pet. Big Bear Mountain Resort's online store offersNala Plush Toy, Collapsible Pet Bowls (Small and Large), Tennis Ball Toy, and either a Snow Summit or Bear Mountain Pet Bandanna.

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