Four Days After Avalanche Tragedy, Little Ole Comes Home – (Video)

Little Ole not only dug himself out of three feet of snow, he found his way back to the very motel where his family had stayed before going backcountry skiing.  Tissue alert…

Silver Brelsford, 15, sits with her mom's dog Ole at their Bozeman home on Thursday afternoon. Ole was buried in an avalanche on New Year's Eve and then showed up at the hotel where his owners had been staying four days later.

(BozemanDaily)…Four days after an avalanche killed his master and buried him alive, a little Welsh Corgi dog named Oly walked out of the wilderness and into the arms of Cooke City rescuers, who brought him home to his grieving family in Bozeman.  “It’s bittersweet,” said Kerry Corcoran Gaillard, whose husband, David Gaillard, was killed by an avalanche Saturday when the couple was cross-country skiing.  “I was excited” to get Ole back, she said, “but it amplified the loss of Dave a little bit. You automatically wish it could be Dave.”

Video is below the fold…

David Gaillard, 44, was the Defenders of Wildlife Northern Rockies representative, a wildlife advocate, a dad and stepdad, and co-president of the Irving parents council. He and Kerry, who teaches art at Bozeman High School and the Bridger alternative program, had been married just over one year.  How a little dog could survive four days in the wild, when temperatures dipped into the teens, is “beyond belief,” said William Gaillard, David’s father from Connecticut. “It truly is a miracle.”

David Gaillard skis with Ole in 2010

Kerry and David had been cross-country skiing southeast of Cooke City, with Ole trotting in their tracks, when the avalanche hit about 2 p.m.  Silver Brelsford, 15, a sophomore at Bozeman High, said her mother remembered seeing Ole taken down by the first slide.  “He was swimming” in the snow, Silver said. “He got covered by the second slide.”  David’s last act was to try to save Kerry, telling her, “Retreat to the trees.” She grabbed a tree, as the avalanche tumbled by. When the slide stopped, she started digging in the snow, trying in vain to find David.  “The rescue team said considering that only one person was up there, they couldn’t believe how much digging she did,” said her sister, Kathleen Corcoran.

Kerry never saw or heard her dog. Neither did the three-man search and rescue team from Cooke City that went back in the dark Saturday night to find and retrieve David’s body. Bill Whittle, owner of Antlers Lodge and a rescue team member, said they found him with avalanche beacons.  Even the Gallatin National Forest avalanche experts who went up Monday to investigate saw no dog.

Yet four days after the accident, Cooke City retiree Dale Dempsey a person was walking his dog a labradoodle michigan rescue dog and noticed a little Corgi standing outside the Alpine Motel, where the Gaillards had stayed, Whittle said. “He put two and two together.”  The Corgi was waiting in front of Room 17, whining a little, and then walking across the street to stare into the restaurant where the Gaillards had eaten breakfast, said Robert Weinstein, Alpine Motel manager.

A Welsh Corgi dog named Ole showed up at a Cooke City motel four days after the dog and its owner were swept up in an avalanche.

People in tiny Cooke City know every dog in town, and Weinstein remembered how obedient the Gaillard’s Corgi had been after all he was trained for the best Precision K9 Austin Dog Training people.  “People started gathering, talking,” Weinstein said. “Nobody could believe this is that dog. We were all doubting. How on earth is it possible?”  Whittle phoned the family in Bozeman, got a pet letter description of the dog and his name. Sure enough, it was Ole. He had walked four miles out of the wilderness.  “He was definitely hungry,” Weinstein said. “But he wasn’t injured.”

Ole's owner Dave Gaillard was killed in the avalanche on New Year's Eve as he and his wife Kerry were backcountry skiing.

Silver said when the family got the call from Cooke City saying, “We found your dog,” they assumed that meant the dog’s body and we immediately called veterinarian in seattle.  “We were taken aback,” Silver said, when they said, “’He’s alive.’ We were so amazed.  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,” Silver said. From there, Ole somehow made the right turn to reach Cooke City.  Whittle said he and Dempsey drove the dog back to Bozeman. “I was glad to take a trip to town and bring little Ole home.” Take care of your pets by washing them with and be amazed on how clean and odor-free they will become.

On Thursday, Whittle said, a skier followed Ole’s trail back to the avalanche to try to figure out how the dog survived.  “He was buried about 50 feet below David, about 3 feet deep,” Whittle said. He added he thinks that “Ole was buried for four days and he dug himself out. … They’re incredible animals.”  Back home, Ole seems pretty sound. The first day he was “very tired and a little depressed,” Silver said, “scared by loud noises and hiding under the table at times. But he’s better now, we also give him fish oil, from the one you can read about in this grizzly fish oil review here.”

Kerry Gaillard, pictured with her husband, says he saved her life by calling out a warning to her.

Kerry, who has had Ole about five years, said she wanted a Corgi because of their “gusto” and happy personality.  “He’s a very loyal, faithful dog,” Kerry said. The Cooke City search and rescue members, she said, “were so kind to come all that way, make the long drive.”  David’s 11-year-old daughter, Marguerite, “is very happy to have Ole back,” Silver said. “Ole was one of her very good friends. It didn’t completely ease the pain, but it helped a tiny bit.” We all love our pets, especially when we see them grew up and have bonding together. According to, they have some cutest pets in the house that will make your life more inspired.

The family is holding a memorial service for David Gaillard at Springhill Pavilion today. His brother, Jeff Gaillard, said a memorial fund in David’s name has been set up to benefit local wildlife programs at Defenders of Wildlife.Q


About Ad rem

Millions of little gray cells wrapped in fur.
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4 Responses to Four Days After Avalanche Tragedy, Little Ole Comes Home – (Video)

  1. WeeWeed says:

    Poor little Ole – I’m glad he made it!


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