On Vail Mountain, they call him “The Dogfather.” As the first canine member of Vail Ski Patrol, Henry the avy dog was already something of a celebrity on and off the mountain, with throngs of kids pressing their noses and steaming the glass on the door of PHQ hoping to get a glimpse of, and ideally a hug from, Vail’s four-legged patroller. Over the summer, Vail expanded the deck and yurt behind PHQ (dubbed Henry’s Hut) to include Dogtown, where kids can watch Henry, retired from active duty, school the next generation of patrol dogs (Jake, Rocky, and Cowgirl), with opportunities to meet and greet the canine stars. “There’s just a mob of people surrounding him all day long, loving on him,” says Henry’s handler, Vail Ski Patrol supervisor Chris “Mongo” Reeder. “I couldn’t imagine a better life for a dog than being an avy dog—especially Henry. He’s part of our history and culture.”
Meet Willy, a floppy-eared golden retriever who’s earned rock-star status as Beaver Creek’s first-ever Mountain Safety Dog. As the canine equivalent of the resort’s volunteer army of red-coated Mountain Hosts, Willy works alongside Beaver Creek Mountain Safety Manager Mark Carll, earning a salary of belly rubs and Milk-Bones as his handler lectures captive audiences in lift lines and the ski yard at Cookie Time about yielding to uphill traffic and the consequences of ducking a rope. How fetching is Willy? On the resort’s Facebook page, his intro video has been viewed half a million times.