Vail’s Original Mountain Dog Has Passed Away


(Photo credit: @vailmtn / Instagram)

Mount VailThe original mountain dog was laid to rest last month. Henry was a Golden retriever and one of Colorado’s best-known ski resort citizens. The independent post reports how, with his red waistcoat and sumptuous golden fur, Henry became larger than life among the area’s ski patrollers.

The Dogfather himself

Adorably, everyone knew Henry as The Dogfather. Additionally, Henry’s Hut was named in honor of the dog, and The legacy of Henry Bourbon graciously used its namesake. However, to his current family, the Reeders, he was and always will be Hank. After the Reeders decided to live in the mountains, they decided they needed a dog too. In 2007, the couple made the trip to Michigan to meet Henry. According to Lisa Reeder, “There were only two dogs left in the litter. The other dog was a bit aloof, stray, and [Henry] just wouldn’t let us go.

Apparently, the person who put the puppies up for adoption let the Reeders know that Henry would make a good working dog. “She thought Henry might do something with 4H, or something with the public,” Ms. Reeder said.

A mountain dog, but also a family dog

As a ski patroller himself, Chris “Mongo” Reeder was the first to consider Henry a avalanche dog. He didn’t know how fit Henry would become. Henry quickly gained a reputation for being able to quickly detect anyone buried under the snow. To test him, ski patrollers would bury themselves in the forest and try to cut off his nose, only to fail time and time again.

But for the Reeders, Henry’s best work came after coming down the mountain. At home, Henry supported their children and the family will always remember all that he added to their lives. Molly, the Reeders’ youngest daughter, said: [Henry] always knew he was there to protect Emma and me, and he was there to make us happy and our lives special. He was so good at non-verbal communication. I felt like he could listen to what we were saying and he understood.

As such, the fact that Henry managed to stay on until Molly graduated from high school was unsurprising. According to Molly, Henry knew his job was not just to save lives on the mountain, but to be there for his family. So when she finally graduated and was getting ready to head off to college, Molly says, “I feel like he thought, ‘I did my job, I grew up with them all their life and made them happy, and now I can rest.


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