Basalt filmmakers’ Discovery Channel segment on Snowmass ski patrol dog airs Sunday |

Basalt filmmakers’ Discovery Channel segment on Snowmass ski patrol dog airs Sunday

Piper and handler Dan Berg training in a controlled avalanche on Snowmass Mountain for the Discover Channel’s newest nature series “Dogs: The Untold Story."
Jeremy Swanson/Courtesy Photo |

What began 10 years ago as two Basalt kids’ passion for producing ski films has since evolved into a full-fledged, award-winning production company with big-name clients and millions of viewers.

Tonight, Vital Films co-founders Matt Hobbs and Cael Jones — along with hundreds of millions of Americans — will watch the pinnacle of the company’s career premiere on national television.

“Dogs: The Untold Story” is a new Discovery Channel series that explores the origins and camaraderie of man and dog via five segments shot around the world.

Episode two of the series, titled “Wild Workers,” highlights the relationship between Snowmass ski patroller Dan Berg and his avalanche rescue dog, Piper.

Jones and Hobbs, in collaboration with the U.K.-based Plimsoll Productions group and executive producer Martha Holmes, produced the segment for Discovery Networks International.

Hobbs, a Roaring Fork Valley native, said, “As a filmmaker, shows like Planet Earth, Life (and) Blue Planet are what really inspired me to stay at home and get into more nature-driven content.

“I think those are some of the best shows on television,” he said. “To help with a slice of one of their new projects, I think is one of the coolest things ever.”

“And especially dogs, who doesn’t love dogs?” Hobbs added.

Based on the attention that a previous Vitals Films’ dog video received, apparently, the internet loves dogs as well.

In 2014, Vital Films teamed up with the Town of Snowmass Village marketing team, Snowmass Tourism, to produce a video featuring Snowmass’ ski patrol dogs.

The video attracted hundreds of thousands of viewers, including producers at the Discovery Channel, who reached out to Hobbs and Jones in February.

By late March, a crew was recreating avalanche drills in Snowmass while filming Piper and Berg.

Piper, the star of the show, is a 5-year-old Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, which “nobody has ever heard of,” Berg joked.

This breed, the smallest of the retriever family, is a superior avalanche rescue dog, according to Berg.

“In avalanche work, the trust between the handler and the dog and the dog and the handler is super important,” the ski patroller said. “It goes both ways.”

“Dogs: The Untold Story” airs on Animal Planet tonight from 7 to 11 p.m. “Wild Workers” premieres at 9 p.m.

Vital Films also will host a screening of the series and fundraiser benefiting Snowmass ski patrol and Colorado Animal Rescue animal shelter at Carbondale’s Marble Distilling Co. on Jan. 12 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

For more information, contact

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