For the last ten years, the Labrador greeted visitors to the Cutler River Watershed on Mount Washington, particularly at the Hermit Lake Shelter in Tuckerman Ravine.
Cutler was also a pet to Chris Joosen, a snow ranger for the U.S. Forest Service based on Mount Washington.
Here’s Chris’ tribute to this awesome and dedicated Labrador in the May 10 Avalanche Center bulletin.
One of the greatest and saddest things in life is having a dog. They look to you with all their heart and then they leave us when the bond is strongest.
Cutler came into my life as an 8-week-old puppy and left 14 years and 1 month later.
Many believe their dogs are special, but he truly was one of those rare-to-find kind of partners. He had such a stable, predictable personality and was definitely kind. He was never in a fight and had the ability to disarm an aggressive dog with his friendly spirit. Although he occasionally was seen trying to mount a fellow canine and growl lightly when a stranger approached an open window of ‘his’ car, these incidents were rare.
It is a unique and awesome profession to work for the federal government and have a working dog. To be tasked with helping people avoid hazards and rescue them when they have accidents has been fulfilling work for me. Training a canine partner to do the same was thrilling. Watching him grow and develop as he aged was truly rewarding.
I would never want someone to be buried in an avalanche, but I would retire satisfied that Cutler was the reason someone survived.
That live rescue potential is what kept me going when either training was tough, or when we needed to solve a particular search problem. Each dog is different and each has unique search issues to overcome through their training. It was the fear of failing and not being there for the opportunity to make a difference that helped to sharpen the focus.
My fellow Snow Rangers helped keep me on task, and I thank them for being ‘victims’ down in the hole, as well as setting up and managing safe scenarios for other mock victims (for) Cutler.
During his working years, it was all about ensuring the dog was an asset when needed.
Preservation of human life and rescuer safety are the ultimate reasons for having a dog program, but their real daily work comes in generating goodwill and being a launch board for education.
Often it was Cutler who broke the ice in necessary conversations about weather and safety on Mount Washington.
Life preservation work through long-term avalanche education and awareness is where Cutler made the greatest strides. Whether it was going to an elementary school, a ski area, or hanging out in the Tuckerman Bowl, he did so well with kids and adults alike. He was like a magnet for people to come over and start talking about dogs, avalanches, and the hazards of the day. To say he had a thousand pictures taken of him would not be a stretch.
I learned more from him than he ever did from me. I honestly believe he made me a better person. I look forward to (using) what he taught me in my future dogs and hope they get close to who he became. Who knows, if I was a good enough student of what Cutler taught me, perhaps they’ll match him. I’m sure he’d be proud if they do better. Thanks, buddy, for 14 wonderful years. I will never forget you. Chris.
He asked hikers and skiers to give avalanche dogs a pat when they encounter them, provided they are not busy working.
RIP brave Cutler! Thank you for your service and for being so awesome!
Article and image source: WMUR9abc