Photo courtesy of Morgen Ayers



Big Sky Resort has a team of kick-a– canines who are trained to rescue people who get in trouble on the mountain. Admired for their skill and bravery, they are even sponsored by Bridger Animal Nutrition, where photos of avalanche dogs are proudly displayed above the register.

Nine year old avalanche dog Dayna can likely silence the young pups working the mountain with a single look. She is older, wiser and has steely, intelligent blue eyes. Dayna also has fur as soft as a rabbit’s. Many tourists from all over the world took photos of her clinging to her owner Ryan Ayers’ shoulders while he skied down the mountain. She now – in their off time – accompanies him during backcountry ski trips. Dayna loves the thrill, the speed – and she also loves the work. This Big Sky Resort avalanche dog has solid Big Sky roots, as discussed by her owner, Morgen Ayers.

Where did Dayna come from?

Dayna was born right here on the Cinnamon property in cabin #14. She is 1/2 Chocolate Lab and 1/2 Australian Shepard. Our daughter, Samantha, had first pick of the litter. She chose the only speckled puppy and named her Dayna.

What was her early training like?

Ryan started training Dayna when she was just 6 weeks. He started out by hiding a pair of socks behind his back. When Dayna would find them there was a huge celebration. This turned into a fun game of hide and seek that got more advanced over the weeks. After a while, Ryan was hiding Samantha on the property and telling Dayna to search for her. Ryan spent many hours training Dayna and going to obedience classes.

What was the next training step?

Once Dayna passed her obedience classes she was brought up to the ski area for on-mountain training and testing to see what she could do. Her play drive was high and she loved the game! The only thing Dayna did not like was the sound and feel of the avalanche explosives in the morning.

Dayna runs drills where articles of clothing are buried in an area. She is timed on how long it takes to find all the items. It is incredible to see her work. She moves through the snow so easily, focused and fast.

Is she ready to retire soon?

She loves being a working dog! Next year she’ll most likely work part time. She loves running down the mountain and is known for sliding down on her back like an otter would.

What’s a blow-your-mind avalanche dog fact?

Her sense of smell is 20,000 times better than ours.

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