Rescue days over for legendary `Doc’ | AspenTimes.com
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Rescue days over for legendary `Doc’

John Colson

Doctor Dudley Tucker, Ph.D., one of this region’s legendary rescue dogs, died Monday night after a long battle with cancer, when his owners had him put to sleep.

“Doc,” as he was known, would have been 12 years old on April 12.

A full-blooded golden retriever, Doc was a rescue dog headquartered at the Snowmass ski area since puppyhood, according to his owners, Ted and Patty Bennett. Originally from Fort Collins, Colo., he came to the Roaring Fork Valley at the age of 12 weeks, after Ted Bennett picked him up from a breeder’s facility.

Patty Bennett said Doc was certified as a rescue dog in three different specialties – avalanche, water and “field” rescues. He saw action in a number of rescue situations, including several at Rocky Mountain National Park and a search for a woman along County Road 100 near Carbondale.

He also helped in the search for Doug Hamilton, whose tepee was buried by an avalanche in the Castle Creek Valley in 1995.

“Doc taught me a lot about how dogs work in a rescue situation,” said Ted Bennett Tuesday. “Doc is one in a million. You don’t find animals that are that tuned in to people. He is the dog that set the standards for all our other dogs up here [at Snowmass ski area.]”

He said it was not until he watched Doc work the Castle Creek slide area that he realized dogs could “triangulate” their search, digging holes in the snow in different locations but always pointing with their body directly at the place where the missing person is to be found.

Unfortunately, Bennett said, Doc’s appearance at a rescue always came too late for the victims.

“We never had any live finds,” Bennett said.

Doc also was something of a celebrity, from the days when he was growing up at the Aspen Meadows campus where Bennett worked as a landscaper.

“He was stroked by [British Prime Minister] Margaret Thatcher, [President] George Bush, even [former U.S. senator for Colorado] Gary Hart,” Bennett said.

Doc leaves behind a mate, Bernie, and a daughter, Chaz, both of whom are working as avalanche rescue dogs. His body is being cremated, and his ashes will be scattered somewhere at the top of Snowmass ski area.


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