Dog, Buried by Avalanche That Killed Master, Walks Four Days to Safety

Jan 6, 2012 11:58am

A dog, presumed dead after being buried by an avalanche that killed one of his owners on New Year’s Eve, was back at home in Bozeman, Mont., after digging himself out and walking to a nearby town, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported.

According to press reports, on Saturday David Gaillard, 44, and his wife, Kerry Corcoran Gaillard, were cross-country skiing in a narrow creek drainage near Cooke City, Mont., with Oly, their Welsh Corgi, following in their tracks. At around 2 p.m., an avalanche came down from Index Peak, filling the drainage with 12 to 14 feet of snow.

David Gaillard told his wife to “retreat to the trees,” which she did, grabbing a tree and preventing herself from being taken away, the Chronicle reported.

After the avalanche, she dug to find her husband, the article said. She couldn’t find him and returned to Cooke City, where they had stayed before heading out on their ski trip. A search-and-rescue team retrieved David Gaillard’s body late that night.

On Wednesday, four days after the incident, a Cooke City resident noticed a Corgi outside Room 17 of the Alpine Hotel, where the Gaillards had stayed the night before the ski trip, the Chronicle said.

Bill Whittle, a Cooke City businessman,  phoned Kerry Corcoran Gaillard’s family in Bozeman, who described Oly and gave the caller his name, the article said.

“We’re thinking he dug himself out because of his short legs, and he followed the trail back to the point they parked to go ski,” Kerry Corcoran Gaillard’s daughter, Silver Brelsford, told the Chronicle.

Whittle told the paper that on Thursday a skier followed Oly’s tracks back to the avalanche.

“He was buried about 50 feet below David, about three feet deep,” he said.

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