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Help send Fort Collins border collie to avalanche rescue dog training

Posted at 9:00 PM, Jan 17, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-18 11:05:44-05

FORT COLLINS, Colo. — A 2-year-old border collie in Fort Collins is training to be an avalanche rescue dog but needs your help to get there.

“He's a very independent, very motivated, high-drive dog,” said Jeanine Neskey, Ripp’s owner.

As soon as Ripp was born, Neskey knew he was the right dog for the job.

“He was born the day after Christmas. So his first winter, he was too little to do a whole lot. But we were able to get started and introduce him to snow and introduce him to skis,” Neskey said.

Ever since Ripp's first ride through Colorado’s snow-covered mountains, he’s been training two-to-three hours per day to become Diamond Peaks Ski Patrol's first avalanche rescue dog.

“Watching him pull people out of a snow cave is pretty impressive when they're, like, double his weight or more,” laughed Neskey.

Neskey said the motivation for Ripp is a game of tug of war.

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Ripp was eight months old when he attended his first avalanche training in Aspen. He's been invited to the Colorado Rapid Avalanche Deployment Winter Canine Camp (C-RAD) at Arapahoe Basin in just a few weeks. But training to be an avalanche rescue dog isn’t cheap.

Ripp will need new winter gear and a place to stay while training. There are also additional costs that come with getting Ripp certified.

Diamond Peaks Ski Patrol Director Mac Fuller said adding a K9 to their entirely volunteer-based team will help them rescue even more people.

“If someone is buried without a beacon, having that extra level of detectability with Ripp is just huge and makes all the difference,” explained Fuller.

Diamond Peaks Ski Patrol covers Cameron Pass, located 65 miles west of Fort Collins. Fuller said there's often no cell service and the nearest emergency services are often more than two hours away.

Ripp can cover a lot of ground in a very short amount of time. Not to mention, his nose is an invaluable tool that can save lives.

Neskey started a GoFundMe online fundraiser to help with expenses. If you'd like to help send Ripp to avalanche rescue dog training, click here.

The C-RAD Winter Course will take place at A-Basin from Feb. 11 through Feb. 15.

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