Colt and Lucky: Dogs on skis

ASAHIKAWA, Japan (AP) -- Colt and Lucky, a pair of St. Bernard dogs from the snowbound town of Asahikawa in central Hokkaido, Japan's northern have an unusual daily routine.

Every morning their owners, the Sato family, take their two Saint Bernards—nine-year and two-years old respectively—out for their usual walk.

But this walk usually brings the dogs all the way to the ski slopes, where very few house dogs venture.

Then their paws are fitted into a pair of specially manufactured ski shoes and clamped onto skis. Under guidance, the dogs are then launched down the slopes on their skis.

Since the dogs have not learned how to stop at the end of a ski run they need a human partner on their leash to help them slow down gently.

Colt and Lucky have been skiing since they were puppies so they are quite used to their daily outing and the attention they receive.

''They've become this ski slope's mascot,'' Toshimitsu Sato said.

''I am thinking of getting them to learn to jump and even snowboard, but I think for the moment these dogs just love it out here on the slopes,'' he added.

The dogs have become so famous that ski jump gold medalist in the 1998 Nagano Olympics Masahiko Harada has donated his old skis to their cause.

The skis had to be adapted to the needs of the four-legged skiers.