With ski goggles strapped to his snout and a rescue vest around his furry body, Henry the Border Collie spends a majority of his winters on Whistler’s mountains prepared to jump into life-saving action at any given moment.
Henry is one of roughly 25 specially-trained dogs that work as volunteers with the Canadian Avalanche Rescue Dog Association. Along with his owner, ski patroller Ian Bunbury, the pair make up one of the top teams for Avalanche Search and Rescue.
And now, the pair can add movie-star status to their resumes as they are set to be featured in Cosmic Picture’s Superpower Dogs, a documentary-style Imax movie that features the inspiring true stories of six dogs who are truly real-life superheroes.
According to his online biography, Henry is a typical dog on his days off who “believes there is never a bad time for a wiggle,” but is always ready for a callout.
The pair are dedicated to following the CARDA motto: “committed to saving the life of the avalanche victim,” but a rescue rarely ends with everyone being brought off the mountain alive.
In 2017, Henry and Bunbury were called out to a fatal avalanche where it took three hours of searching for them to find the person’s body buried under the snow. The bittersweet moment, according to Bunbury, only strengthened him and Henry’s goal of saving lives.
Weekly training for Bunbury and his four-legged pal includes riding on snowmobiles, toboggans and taking chairlifts up and down the mountain, as well as riding on Ian’s shoulders.
Henry is also trained in helicopter long line insertion and extrication – a key scene in the upcoming film, producer Taran Davies said.
“It will take your breath away.”
The documentary premiers at Science World in Vancouver and the Royal BC Museum on June 28.