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Avalanche course with my lappy Rowan in Oberstdorf

in Erziehung / Verhalten / Probleme 11.02.2016 09:41
von Rowan&Bosco | 9 Beiträge

Avalanche course at the Foundation Leonberger Search and Rescue Working Group
23 - 29 January 2016

Hello, my name is Claudia Klaassen - van Geet and we live in Harderwijk (The Netherlands). We have two Finnish Lapphunds Rowan (4years) and his son Bosco (16 months).
Holger Waßmann asked me to post this on your forum ;-)

Something I was really looking forward to, and what seemed to be incredibly cool to do with Rowan, was finally going to happen. A week training with a Finnish Lapphund in the snow! The chance of him just continiously rolling around in the snow is big, but we'll see. The important thing is that we have fun.

You can only participate in the avalanche course, when you have completed the basic search and rescue course at this club. I have trained with Rowan for some time with the Leonbergers. We completed the basic and advanced course in 2013 and we now join the Alfa group. The 'little dog' between the big Leonbergers is doing very well. In some ways, a Finnish Lapphund is more convenient, faster and they are, in my opinion, really a lot smarter than the great Leonbergers.

Before we had a training session in the woods near Ermelo on 13th December. There we were briefly explained the theory and we went through the list of materials. We also did a number of exercises to freshen up some knowledge.
First the dogs had to dig up their toys out of the sand, on the command 'digging'. We have done some tracking and rescue exercises. Tracking we do on objects and with search and rescue work they have to find a victim or victims in a plot.
Furthermore, we were introduced with the probe and an avalanche transceiver.
Afterwards, we were given a large package of paper with all the ins and outs about avalanches.

Besides the cost of the course, accommodation, food and the journey towards it, you will also need to purchase some materials. I had to buy a pair of snowshoes and an avalanche transceiver. Luckily we go skiing every year, so that saved me a lot of money.

The only thing missing is ... Snow!
That was thrilling, but luckly the week before a large pack of 110 cm fell at the top and 40 cm in the valley. We drove on Friday/Saturday night so we were on time in our apartment in the Gschwenderhaus in Oberstdorf ... and yesss there was a lot of snow!
In the afternoon there was scheduled the first activity; a walk and introduction into the surroundings. What a beautiful world it is!
It soon became clear that there was enough snow, so we can train next to the Gschwenderhaus.

Sunday was the first day of training. At 10 o’clock we prepared our camp, so the dogs have a place to rest between the exercises. Set op the tent, a big pin in the snow/ground, a rug and a bowl of water for the dogs and we are ready to start. Later it turned out not all of this is needed for a Finnish Lapphund. They don’t drink water, because there is snow everywhere to eat. A rug was simply not necessary because they can en only lay in the snow. That's different with the Leonbergers, they are rapidly cold and they have to vomit after eating snow.

The very first exercise was getting familiar with walking on snowshoes. So we climbed up and down the mountain. I had never walked on these things and it was very strange the first time. Next the dogs had to work. First we had to bury their favorite toy in the snow and the dog had to dig him up again. The first time not to deep and in front of them so they can see it. Later on a distance and deeper into the snow.
Meanwhile, the organization built an open snow pit. In this snow pit one victim has to lie down and it was time for the first exercise. You send your dog ahead and they need to find a person lying down ‘the victim’. We have already trained this several times with the basic course. Rowan had to get used to the situation, but then he knew and he found the victim. Because the group is smaller this year, even Bosco was allowed to participate. I do not understand how, but on the command 'forward', he run straight to the snow pit with the victim. She did had his ball ;-)
Perhaps he is a natural talent? Bosco has not practised any search and rescue work. In February this year we will start the basic course with him.

In the afternoon we did some search and rescue exercises where the snow pit was slightly covered with a white camouflage. No problem for the Leonbergers and the Finnish Lapphunds.
Then we went probing. This is a narrow pole which you gently prick into the snow to feel if there is something below or under the snow. First we all pricked at the same spot for a fake arm and later all in line (row) on a bigger piece of land.
We also had an exercise with the avalanche transceiver. You can send and search a signal with the beeper, so it's important that you have set your transceiver right. A beeper was hidden in the snow and we had to find it with our avalanche transceiver. On the screen you can read how many meters the other transceiver is away from you.
After this we had to walk a short track with the dog and later all at once a long track through the snow. It surprised me that there still remains a smell in the snow!

Monday we started with getting use to the snowshoes along with the dog. Of course you dont want to step on the feet of your dog with those metal pins! So we went up and down the mountain again. Rowan knows the command 'wait' that we use when we walk in the mountains in summer. During the descent in the snow it was very useful, at least I was not dragged down ;-)
Meanwhile, the dense snow pit was built so we could practice. At first there was a small hole so you could still see the victim. Later is was closed with more snow. It's very strange to be in such a dense snow pit / igloo. It is very light and the sounds are muted out. The dogs have to dig to get to the victim. First you hear a scratch and later you see a leg stabbing through the snow ... a very special experience. Rowan and Bosco also found the victim under the snow. Obviously I was out of the snow pit so I could send my dogs forth to a victim.
In the afternoon we went to a small wood for an avalanche transceiver and a search and rescue exercise with the dog. That was not easy walking with snowshoes with trees and branches under the snow.
Then we went back to our camp and we went sledding!! Well ... we were learning how to stop if you slip off the mountain. It’s best to, if possible, turn on your stomach and quickly stretch out your legs and your arms (in an X). That's quite a challenge as you glide very hard!

Tuesday we all went to the gondola up the Söllereck (1358m). Luckely this is a muzzle free lift, but for most dogs a new experience. The attendant was very nice and let the gondolas slight slower when boarding. 4 Adults and 2 Finnish Lapphunds fit into a 6 persons gondola. That will not fit with Leonbergers ;-)
Up the mountain we went looking for the 'Winterwanderweg’ to go down. A beautiful hike of four hours through the snow and on the way we stopped for 2 exercises.

Wednesday morning we practiced at our accommodation. The snow quality was however less due to the warm weather, but for us just enough to train. We started back in the dense snow pit and later we used the open pit and a new pit to train with more victims. Nice to see how the dogs check the various places if there is a victim.
In the afternoon there was a course with several elements; the dog had to dig a toy, do three jumps, a slalom, a spot in which the participant had to use the probe in search of a fake limb. Then there was a long track for the dog and finally we had to do an avalanche transceiver exercise.
In the evening we went out for a dinner with every participant and trainer of the course.

Thursday there was scheduled a day off. But in the evening there was an exercise in the dark. Our preparations were: a light on the dogs harness, a helmet with a head lamp, the avalanche transceiver and the snowshoes.
We first had to walk to the location. Arriving it turned out to be an overgrown forest plot where five victims were hidden. In couples of two, 1 person with the dog and the other with the avalanche transceiver and a walky talky. We went on line (row) in the dark forest. In the end all the victims were found, only for Rowan it was a lot heavier than the Leonbergers. The whole day it has been above zero and the snow is very soft, about 30 cm high now. That was much harder for Rowan to get through than the Leonbergers. Rowan runs easily over it when the snow has frozen more. Then it is much harder for the Leonbergers with their 70 kilos. They sag through the snow.
After the evening exercise mulled wine and schnapps stood ready at our accommodation. We really deserve this after trudging through snow and a very dense plot!

The last day, Friday allready, was marked by transporting the dog. First the dogs had to put on a special harness, which they were then hoisted. This in order to imitate the hoisting of a helicopter. All dogs surrendered completely when the legs were of the ground.
Then we went to move the dog on a sled with ourselves on it. Obviously this gives really nice pictures ☺
Unfortunately all good things come to an end, it was already time for the ceremony of our certificates. I am so proud to obtaining our certificate and we had an incredibly nice week in the snow! A cosy group, lovable dogs, enough snow, great weather, great apartment, good food, what does a person (and dog) want more!! Oh yeah ... between training Rowan still loved rolling in the snow ;-)

This avalanche training is given every other year and I hope to follow him again in 2018, but then with this son Bosco.

Information about the club:

Angefügte Bilder:

Claudia Klaassen - van Geet
Owner of Rowan & Bosco
zuletzt bearbeitet 11.02.2016 10:02 | nach oben springen


RE: Avalanche course with my lappy Rowan in Oberstdorf

in Erziehung / Verhalten / Probleme 11.02.2016 10:07
von Midvinterlandets | 1.238 Beiträge

Thx for your lovly report Claudia

Very nice to read and great pictures you have done a fantastic job

Many greetings


Renflockens Kennel

zuletzt bearbeitet 12.02.2016 09:03 | nach oben springen

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