Allyson Litt

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July 18, 2013
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Beloved Beaver Creek avalanche rescue dog passes away

BEAVER CREEK — July 12 was a sad day for members of the Beaver Creek Ski Patrol, as they lost of their most important team members. Dixie, a yellow Lab who was the first certified avalanche rescue dog for Beaver Creek, passed away peacefully at 11 years old. Dixie was far beyond just man’s best friend; she was a guardian to the mountain, and an educator.

Ski patrol employee Jeff Thompson, Dixie’s owner, got the pup when she was 8 weeks old in and had her certified when she was 2 years old. Working as a service dog every day throughout the winter season at Beaver Creek, Dixie soon became a valued member of the rescue team as well as in the community.

“She was known to be one of the sweetest, most loyal dogs,” said Thompson, who was camping with Dixie at the Flaming Gorge Reservoir when she passed. “She was smart and calm — always the dog we took to the schools to be around children who might tug on her ears.”

Dixie was quite the busy dog. When she wasn’t working in the office, she was out visiting schools around the area with ski patrols to educate children on the importance of skier and avalanche safety. And for a canine, Dixie knew safety pretty well.

“Although every rescue was a group effort, Dixie was involved with about 15 avalanche incidents in her career,” Thompson said. “She was a veteran, and the new pups coming in will have big shoes to fill.”

Other than a diagnosed heart problem the vet found 6 months ago, Dixie was a happy and healthy dog.

“They told me at some point she’s going to keep failing, but it never got to that point— till the day she died she was doing what she loved,” Thompson said.

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The VailDaily Updated Jul 29, 2013 06:16PM Published Jul 18, 2013 04:51PM Copyright 2013 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.