Aspen Alps tries Lab experiment |

Aspen Alps tries Lab experiment

Charles Agar
Risco, a pure bred Yellow Lab, is the hotel dog at the Aspen Alps. (Jordan Curet/The Aspen Times)

Aspen, CO ColoradoASPEN The Aspen Alps condo/hotel has a new employee: Risco is a 90-pound yellow Lab who greets visitors, calms cranky families and keeps kids busy, and he has earned himself a spot in employee housing.When they moved into the new apartment their employer provided, a disappointed Nicole Dreyer and her boyfriend, Andrew Smith, had to give their beloved Risco back to Nicole’s mom, who raises and shows Labs from her home in Paonia.Dreyer is the health spa coordinator at the slopeside Aspen Alps condominium hotel, and Smith is the manager on call. When they spotted an article in the Boston Globe about a hotel dog at Boston’s Ritz-Carlton, they petitioned their manager, Pamela Cunningham, to make room for Risco.

“We did a good job lobbying for a hotel dog,” Dreyer said. And Risco’s new job at the Aspen Alps earned him exemption from the company’s no-pet housing regulations.Cunningham was skeptical at first, she said, but a calm and helpful Risco earns his keep. When families arrive at the Aspen Alps with frazzled kids, Frisco calms everyone down, Cunningham said: “He’s like our own psychotherapist” – only he doesn’t charge by the hour.Guests and their children visiting the Aspen Alps love to play with Risco, who, Dreyer said, “thinks he’s a Chihuahua and likes to climb in your lap.”

Risco also likes to bury his head in the snow and push himself across the ground with his back legs like a walrus, an almost knowing grin on his face.”He’s always like this,” Dreyer said of a grinning Risco, who was busy rolling in the snow. “He’s so mellow.”And like any good Aspenite, Risco has a second job: He goes back to Paonia now and again to prep for regional dog shows. Risco is a show dog working toward championship status. He has five points toward the goal of 15, which, along with two tournament wins, will earn him the distinction. The 4-year-old, 90-pound Risco got his name from the shortening of his longer show name: Winnie the Pooh’s Aristocrat.

“He’s pretty famous at the Alps with the owners and the kids,” Dreyer said.Charles Agar’s e-mail address is


See more