It’s an avi dog’s life

Chrismas Milly!

Press Release: Avalanche pooch, Milly, retires this week after ten years of active service in the Treble Cone Ski Patrol.

Brendan Kearns and Milly (Treble Cone Wanaka NZ).jpg

Milly who turns 13  years old on the 2nd of October, is a pedigree Labrador who owner and handler Brendan ‘Doons’ Kearns took on as a 3 year old pup back in 2004 that had been identified as having the traits of a great search dog.

Following a year of training, Milly became qualified as an operational avalanche search dog 10 years ago, and has worked every winter on the mountain since. For the last 3 years Milly has achieved the even higher distinction of an ‘advanced’ avalanche search dog.

The Aspiring Avalanche Dogs which Milly is a member of, respond to incidents across the entire Southern Lakes region and potentially as far north as Mt Cook. Throughout Milly’s 10 years of active service she has attended to eight incidents in the Southern Lakes region, and confirmed all eight potential incident sites as ‘cleared’.


Additionally throughout her career, on a day in, day out basis Milly has helped promote backcountry awareness.

“As soon as we met Milly for the first time, it was apparent that she had great drive and an awesome temperament, which has made her one of the top avalanche search dogs over the last decade” commented Matt Gunn who is the coordinator of Aspiring Avalanche Dogs.

Milly is one of 10 active avalanche search dogs in New Zealand. Following her retirement this weekend, in 2015 Treble Cone hopes to have Rocket who’s handled by Matt Gunn, Zeffer who’s handled by Callum Grant, and Tuki who’s handled by Andy Wardell on the mountain to continue the great work which Milly has been a key part of.


Chrismas Milly!
Chrismas Milly!

Whilst Milly is unlikely to take up golf, her retirement will not be too different to many other local retirees, and will include many walks and swims along the shores of Lake Wanaka.


Rachael Oakes-Ash is the name behind @misssnowitall and the founder of A long time travel and lifestyle journalist and ski writer, she's been published in ESPN, TIME, Wallpaper*, Action Asia, Inside Sport, Australian Financial Review, Emirates Open Skies, Conde Nast Traveler and more. She was the Fairfax snow blogger from 2007 to 2017 and the Southern Hemisphere editor for OnTheSnow. Rachael is also a documentary producer, author, radio announcer and humorist.


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