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In the Adventure Biz: Fido Pro

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Photos courtesy of Fido Pro

Sometimes it takes a bad situation to come up with a great idea.

Just ask former competitive skier, ultra-marathon runner and climber/mountaineer Paul Hoskinson. In May of 2017, Paul was backcountry skiing at Independence Pass near Aspen with some friends and his German Shorthaired Pointer, Remi, when disaster struck. As Paul dropped into the bowl, Remi crossed the path of Paul’s left ski, causing a large gash in her right front leg.

Horrified, Paul tended Remi’s wound with the help of his friends, squeezed her into his backpack and began the long trek out to the nearest emergency vet. After surgery, a leg brace and several weeks of rehab, Remi fortunately made a complete recovery.

As bad as the accident was, it made Paul consider all the ways it could have been worse. What if Remi hadn’t fit in his backpack? If Paul’s friends hadn’t been there, he would have had to bail on his gear and carry Remi out of the deep snow alone, or — even worse — leave her behind on the mountain to find help.

“The possible scenarios of how a dog can become sick or injured in the backcountry are endless, as are the outcomes, some of which are unimaginable,” he says.

Paul began searching for a product that would allow him to perform such a rescue alone. He didn’t find one. But he did find countless stories about accidents involving pets in the backcountry, which inspired him to take matters into his own hands.

After several months of product development, Paul launched the Fido Pro Airlift — an easily packable, hammock-style rescue device made from 200 denier nylon packcloth. Weighing 8 ounces and about the size of a burrito, the device is designed to distribute the dog’s weight evenly throughout the frame. In an emergency, simply unfold the Airlift, slide your dog’s legs through the holes and strap it on your back.

It was important to Paul to keep Fido Pro’s manufacturing in the town where he lives, Carbondale, using American-made materials. “I’m a Colorado native. I love this state and want to help the local economy as well as have oversight regarding the manufacturing,” he says.

The Fido Pro Airlift has already gained the endorsement of the National Association for Search and Rescue. It comfortably carries dogs weighing 30–100 pounds, but Paul and his team are currently working on Fido Pro Airlift 2, a two-person rescue device for very large dogs.

Now, Paul has greater peace of mind when he ventures into the backcountry with Remi and his other German Shorthaired Pointer, Panza. “We’ve traveled countless miles together in the backcountry,” he says. “I've talked to many, many dog owners that hike, trail run and ski with their dogs. All of them either have a story of having to rescue or that it’s been on their mind.”

You can purchase the Fido Pro Airlift at outdoor shops like Neptune Mountaineering in Boulder and Jagged Edge Mountain Gear in Telluride, or online on the Fido Pro website.

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