Rescue dogs demonstrate skills for Terrace students

Of course, the dogs were a hit.

About 60 children from Terrace Park Elementary in Mountlake Terrace trekked to the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest near Snoqualmie Pass last week to learn how to snowshoe and get a look at what goes into avalanche rescue.

The kids raced a 20-yard course with snowshoes before lunch with the winner earning a Smokey Bear lapel pin, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

Forest Service Ranger Kim Larned took the kids on a guided snowshoe tour and told stories about voles, eagles and snow bugs as they swished over the slopes and down valleys on the mile-long loop course.

After the hike, the kids met rescue dogs Betty, Etta and Bazuka and their handlers Katherine Fitch, Ron Linde and Kevin Huggett from the Alpental Ski Patrol.

The three dogs showcased their tracking skills by demonstrating how they could quickly find two sweaters that were buried earlier in the snow.

Two students hid in an ice cave while Fitch and her dog Bette, a mixed breed, went to the rescue, as Bette dug and barked to signal where the children hid. Fitch rewarded Bette with her favorite toy, a stuffed duck.

Fitch said it takes six months to a year to train the dogs.

Guided snowshoe walks at Snoqualmie Pass are offered every weekend starting at 10 a.m. Call 425-434-6111 for reservations. Trips for special events and school groups can be scheduled. Information for all snowshoe walks on the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest is available online at http://tinyurl.com/bfpdhmk.

A donation is suggested of $15 for adults, $10 for youth 16 and under, and $25 per person for the half-day hikes and photography outings. Reservations are required for all programs.

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