(MONARCH MOUNTAIN, Colo.) — Avalanche rescue dogs are extremely loyal and important members of mountain ski patrol. But have you ever wondered how these dogs train to rescue people buried deep under snow?

We’re taking you behind the scenes, or rather beneath the snow, to see how Monarch Mountain avalanche dogs keep their life-saving skills sharp.

Avalanche rescue dogs, like Glen, are ready to sniff out trouble and save the day if needed. These dogs stay on their ‘paws,’ practicing these search skills every week.

“When people aren’t wearing an avalanche transceiver, we don’t have any way of locating them under the snow, except for the dogs,” said Mike Collette, Ski Patrol Supervisor with Monarch Mountain.

FOX21’s Valerie Mills assisted Monarch Mountain Ski Patrol with training exercises for their avalanche rescue dogs.

Ski Patrol Director, Zach Moore, buries Val in snow save for live burial training.

Valerie participated in a training exercise called a ‘live burial.’ Essentially, Valerie portrays the victim, buried deep under snow as someone would be in an avalanche.

“The dog’s going to come in after an avalanche has happened. And we’re looking for clues on the surface,” said Collette.

First, ski patrol digs snow caves several feet under the snow’s surface, making it challenging and realistic for rescue dogs.

“We try to make the holes look as natural as possible, like we haven’t messed with them or done much with them,” said Collette. “We try to do a lot of stepping and stuff around the holes to make sure it kind of mimics avalanche debris and debris in the holes.”

After being buried under snow, avalanche rescue dogs sniff to find the victim’s scent in hopes of rescue.

“We let the person sit for a little bit to get the scent to come up and out of the snow. And then me and Glen come out and perform a search,” said Collette. “Making sure that we’re finding the correct wind directions for that scent so that we’re putting ourselves in the best possible situation for a positive rescue.”

Ski patrol says every minute counts in an avalanche rescue mission.

“As soon as you start sliding, the snow becomes like liquid, so it’s like water coming down the slopes. And, as soon as it starts to slow down, it sets up like concrete. 10 to 15 minutes is your best chance of survival,” said Zach Moore, Ski Patrol Director of Monarch Mountain.

Ski patrol mitigates Monarch’s avalanche risk daily to prevent slides within ski area boundaries.

“We’re looking to see where the snow has come in… And then we look to mitigate that with explosives work, ski cuts, and putting pressure on that terrain to make sure that it’s safe for the public,” said Collette.

The non-profit organization, Friends of Monarch Ski Patrol, supports the Avalanche Dog Program at Monarch Mountain and the development of Ski Patrollers.

Click here to learn more about the organization and how you can give back.

Glen is one of Monarch’s certified Colorado Rapid Avalanche Deployment (C-RAD) dogs. The organization’s goal is to coordinate avalanche response across Colorado with trained dogs who are ready for search and rescue deployment.