When writer Janet Love Morrison lived on the top of Whistler Mountain as its very last alpine caretaker, she would think about the impact the alpine could have on visitors not used to it, especially the younger ones.
"Living on the mountain created that much more of an awareness, and working for Whistler, it made me think that kids are so innocent that they could just venture off without awareness of the dangers," she recalls. "I felt there was an opportunity here to use this as an educational tool."
She never saw children placed at risk herself, but did hear stories from ski patrol and through the "mountain grapevine" about different searches going on.
This eventually led to her new children's book, Radar the Rescue Dog, which is being launched on Saturday, Nov. 30 at Whistler Kids at the base of Blackcomb Mountain at 4 p.m.
Radar was a real canine hero, Whistler's first "civilian validated avalanche rescue dog." He lived with his owner Bruce Watt, one of the founders of Canadian Avalanche Rescue Dog Foundation (CARDA).
"As I see it, Radar is an icon in the ski industry in Canada. He was just amazing," Love Morrison says.
"Radar the Rescue Dog as a book just flowed, the title has never wavered. It's just like, 'Boom!' this is it. It had to happen."
The launch will be emceed by Whistler councillor Roger McCarthy with special guest Rob Boyd, who was a member of the Canadian National Alpine Ski Team from 1985 to 1997. Boyd will give a reading of the book.
Four-legged members of the CARDA will be there with their handlers. CARDA will be the recipient of proceeds from the sale of the book.
The seeds of the idea came to Love Morrison years ago, while writing a feature for Ski Canada on the founding of the CARDA.
"That was in 1996. I'd seen Radar around the valley and I knew Bruce as an acquaintance but I had never really talked to him about it. I interviewed him, he is one of the co-founders of CARDA. It really dawned on me that there was an opportunity."
The book has been self-published in order to make earn more money for CARDA from sales. The illustrations with the book come from the "amazing artist" Zuzana Riha Driediger, who lives in Revelstoke.
"The timing is right for Radar now because there is that much more interest in the backcountry. The right people have come in to participate in the project," Love Morrison says.
Love Morrison approached federal Liberal leader Justin Trudeau to provide the introduction to the book. The Trudeau family lost their youngest member when Justin's younger brother Michel was killed by an avalanche in B.C.'s Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park in 1998 at the age of 23.
Trudeau responded within two days of being asked by email and was happy to write it.
"He was very gracious at being asked," says Love Morrison. "It was wonderful to have his involvement. The whole family has been involved in avalanche education, which is why I didn't hesitate to ask."
Wrote Trudeau in his introduction:
"Stories like Radar the Rescue Dog illustrate that poor planning, the wrong gear, or just one bad decision in the wilderness can turn the best day ever into the worst. We need to teach our kids to be prepared and to think things through, as well as to listen to the experts and to people who have more experience."