Ullr might be the god of snow, but he isn’t the only being worshipped in ski towns—pet dogs come a close second. These canine deities are everywhere: in yoga classes, as part of a furry gang lording over every office, running under your bike tire on the trails, as a much-smooched third wheel on dates, being the recipients of fundraisers and, eventually, in quarter-page eulogies in the local paper along with other eminent citizens. Because skiers’ dogs are a breed unto themselves, we’re here to enlighten newcomers to some of their particular proclivities. If you’re new to town, read on to learn what to expect from your resident rex. — Ulises Dalton

Dog days of winter. Photo by John Antoniuk

Spring arrives with the discovery that a neighbour’s free-range pooch left turds outside your home all winter. The first dookie emerges in an early melt. Then the rest oozes out of the snowbank over the following weeks. By the time you’ve swapped your winter tires, the entire sidewalk is covered is mounds of decomposing feces.

The dogs in each office indicate employee seniority ranking. Dog owners have the right to longer breaks, especially if they walk coworkers’ dogs. Senior staff’s dogs have the right to eat lower-level employees’ lunches. New employees don’t have the right to have allergies to longstanding office dogs. If a fresh recruit wants to bring their dog to work, but it doesn’t get along with Nancy from accounting’s dog, fresh recruit has to wait for Nancy from accounting’s dog to take a day off.

Not part of ski town vocabulary. Skiers are as likely to restrain their dogs as they are to restrain themselves from powder days. Never gonna happen, bud.

The law of the land may forbid dogs from some busy backcountry locales, but the moral law of dog ownership allows these four-legged critters to be wherever their owners are. Sporting booties and a backpack (and possibly Rex Specs, a snowsuit, or a Pieps TX600), dogs chase their owners while skiing, sledding or hiking. It doesn’t matter that the animal companion might get seriously injured by a ski edge, that the avalanche terrain is complex or that the hound holds everyone up. In an emergency, the owner will prioritize their pet over any humans.

Impeccably groomed, trained, and actually useful, these dogs are the only canines (along with seeing eye dogs) that possess proper etiquette. Ski resort patrol dogs sit side by side on chairlifts, and are featured annually on the front page of the local paper. More importantly, they rescue beacon-less skiers. If the rescued person is lucky, their saviour will be a St. Bernard with a mini-cask of mulled wine hanging under its floppy jowls.

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