By Cory Warren
Published: 03/29/2019, edited: 08/28/2023
Being outdoors with your dog can be a wonderful experience for both of you. There are so many sights and smells and places to wander and explore. But accidents can happen, and if an injury prevents your dog from being able to walk, your adventure can quickly turn into a rescue mission.
It was just this type of situation that inspired Paul Hoskinson to create the Fido Pro Airlift, a hammock-style backpack made to carry injured dogs through rugged terrain.
Paul and his chocolate lab, Remi, were backcountry skiing outside of Aspen, Colorado, two years ago. While making a series of turns with Remi romping alongside, Paul accidentally hit Remi with one of his skis, causing a deep gash in her leg and leaving her unable to walk. Luckily, Remi fit into Paul’s daypack, and he was able to carry her to safety.
Turns out, the ski had severed two of Remi’s tendons, making her right front paw useless. Without that daypack, Paul may have had to leave Remi in the snowy mountains alone to get help, leaving her exposed to the weather and, possibly, worse.
After that experience, Paul searched the internet to see if there were any dog-carrying devices on the market but found none. What he did find were countless articles about dogs injured or stranded on mountain trails or backcountry areas, stories like the one experienced by Tia Vargas and Boomer.
Tia Vargas was hiking to the summit of Table Rock in Wyoming's Grand Tetons when she happened upon Boomer, a large English springer spaniel, alone and limping along the trail, according to a People.com article. Tia said she knew the dog was in trouble and if she left him there, he would die. Without hesitation, she put the 55-pound dog on her shoulders and started making her way down the mountain through snow and debris.
“It got to the point where my neck and legs were in so much pain, and I was so scratched up and tired, I didn’t think I could go on carrying Boomer,” she said in the article.
Fortunately, Tia was able to muster the strength to get Boomer down the mountain. He suffered a dislocated foot and torn ligaments, but has since recovered and is living a happy life with Tia, who adopted the dog. But if she’d had a device like the Airlift, rescuing Boomer would have been easier and less strenuous for her.
The Airlift comes with shoulder and chest straps that are specially designed to distribute weight securely across the shoulders. This design helps men and women of all body types and average strength to comfortably carry a dog between 30 and 100 pounds for long periods in rugged backcountry conditions, such as where Paul was skiing, and Tia was hiking. The Airlift’s nylon, high strength packcloth is relatively simple to put on your dog and adjusts to help keep him secure during the journey. And it’s small and lightweight enough to fit in your backpack — or your dog’s.
It’s not a pleasant thought, but accidents can happen when you’re enjoying the great outdoors with your dog. Being prepared is part of being a responsible pet parent. If you and your dog are outdoorsy types, you may want to consider making the Airlift part of your regular gear.
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