The Dog Days of Summer

Montage Deer Valley associates are known for their warmth and enthusiasm, but no one can top the resort’s canine ambassadors, Montreaux “Monty” and Summit, a pair of Bernese mountain dogs who welcome guests in the lobby each day at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. with wags and kisses. Owned by Montage Deer Valley associates who take them home each night, the dogs spend their “off-hours” wrestling, eating and napping on soft beds. The dogs are part of a beloved tradition that began when the resort opened in 2010.

This summer, Monty and Summit are getting even more attention: Thanks to a new program, for a $500 donation to Big Dogs Huge Paws animal rescue, one of the dogs can join your meeting for a furry play break (research shows that dogs can improve employee interaction) or serve as a ring bearer, aisle escort or flower dog at your wedding. They’ll pose for photos, too.

In the realm of dog rescue, Big Dogs Huge Paws is unique. Utilizing a network of thousands of volunteers, the organization works specifically with giant breeds like Great Danes, Newfoundlands, mastiffs and, of course, Bernese mountain dogs in 10 states across the west and midwest. There’s no central holding point: dogs go straight to foster homes, where they’re loved, cared for and assessed.

President and CEO Lindsay Condon founded the organization in 2008 after working with a local Great Dane rescue. “Owning a Great Dane and working in rescue helped me understand that giant breeds have very specific needs,” Condon says.

One of Montage Deer Valley’s canine ambassadors joins an on-property wedding.

One of those needs is health care. Giant breeds can be particularly susceptible to certain heart, orthopaedic and neurological disorders. Thanks to strong community support, Big Dogs Huge Paws has the resources to treat even the most serious disorders, including those requiring surgery and rehab.

Another is training. Working with professional canine behavior specialists who volunteer their time, Big Dogs Huge Paws evaluates the dogs and develops a step-by-step plan designed to set them up for success in their new homes.

“Once we have gotten to know each dog, we work with their adoptive families to help them manage the dog’s personality and tendencies,” Condon says. “Some of it is training the dog, but a bigger part is helping the owners understand the need to create an environment that supports that dog’s particular personality.”

The program is working: To date, Big Dogs Huge Paws has successfully placed more than 3,600 dogs. Montage Deer Valley also works with local Park City rescue Nuzzles & Co. for various other Hearts of Montage efforts.

To learn more about the program at Montage Deer Valley, visit bigdogshugepaws.com.

By Katie McElveen

Images by Andrew Oxtan