Keystone patrol dog doubles as movie star |

Keystone patrol dog doubles as movie star

summit daily news
Summit Daily/Mark Fox

Lily the Keystone ski patrol dog took time from her day off on Wednesday to attend to the business of a new movie star: an interview and photo op.

The two-year-old border collie-Labrador mix is a Summit County home-grown star in “The Dog Who Saved Christmas Vacation,” a Starz Entertainment production that airs at 6 p.m. Sunday on ABC Family.

It was filmed entirely on location at Keystone Resort during 11 days last February – almost immediately after the Warren Miller Entertainment crew finished up with their park and pipe segment of “Wintervention.”

The film is a sequel to last year’s “The Dog Who Saved Christmas,” where Zeus (voiced by Mario Lopez) was a family’s Christmas present. Picked up at the pound by the Bannister Family patriarch, Zeus was a former K9 dog meant to be the family’s new watchdog.

In the 2009 film, he lives up to his role when the family goes on vacation and the house is burglarized. Amidst a series of booby traps that are rather “Home Alone”-esqe, Zeus ultimately puts the villains in a jail cell for the holiday.

The bad guys, played by Gary Valentine and Dean Cain, refer to the 2009 movie when they cross paths with the Bannisters – and their dog – at Keystone Resort this Christmas.

“We’ll get revenge on that mangy mutt who made us spend last Christmas behind bars,” they say in the film’s trailer.

The family, off to enjoy an innocent Keystone vacation – the film includes references to Kidtopia, skiing, tubing and plenty of images of Keystone personnel and signage – gets tied up in the villains’ plans yet again.

Lily was called in to be a part of the canine motley crew, where she plays Trooper, the male patrol dog. Trooper is the jock who competes with Zeus, the film’s prankster and star, for the attention of a poodle named Bella (voiced by Paris Hilton).

She’s not the only local to play a role in the movie, Keystone spokesman Ryan Whaley said. He has a speaking line at the check-in desk, and there are other cameos of employees, guests and locals throughout the film.

“Everyone was involved, from the COO to every part of the resort,” Whaley said. One example is The Spa at Keystone Lodge manager Leya Nicolait-Aycock, who helped create a spa for the dogs since pets aren’t allowed in the Lodge’s actual facility.

In day-to-day life, Lily is training to be an avalanche dog alongside her owner, patroller Brant Owens. The dog was born into winter, he said, and adores the snow – which was apparent when she went outside for her photo shoot and began rolling and crawling and chasing the snow.

That love of snow bodes well for her patrol job as well as her role in the film.

“(Lily) was more comfortable in the snow than the other dogs,” Whaley said.

Owens said she did well amid the production of actors, cameras, set crew and more.

“She listened to commands and came running when she was called and stayed put when she was supposed to,” he said.

Owens said he didn’t initially volunteer to put Lily in the film, but was called in to fulfill the casting call. A little nervous at first, the production went well. But he’s pretty sure it won’t mean moving to Hollywood.

“We’re very proud of her,” Owens said of the family’s new star. “We hope she’s good at both (being a patrol dog and being in a movie). We don’t want her to get an ego. Business as usual.”

SDN reporter Janice Kurbjun can be contacted at (970) 668-4630 or at

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