In May of 2017, the worst case scenario happened to Colorado native Paul Hoskinson and his beloved dog, Remi. While enjoying a spring day on Independence Pass outside of Aspen, Hoskinson, a former competitive skier and backcountry aficionado, accidentally clipped Remi's right leg when skiing through old slide debris.
"The inevitable finally happened. It was a real nightmare," says Hoskinson.
After getting 3-year-old Remi safely to the vet, Hoskinson was determined to create a solution for if and when the unthinkable happens to man's best friend in the backcountry.
"If I hadn't been with friends, I would have had to bail on my gear or try to carry her out myself, which could have had a bad ending for both of us," says Hoskinson. "Thankfully she fit in my pack and I was able to carry her out that way. That won't always be the case for some people, though."
That day, Hoskinson began poking around on the Internet for a product that could have helped both him and Remi during their accident, but came up short. There was no gear on the market that could have simplified the process of getting Remi out of the backcountry safely and quickly.
"You carry gear to help yourself, so if you're with your dog, why not do the same for them?" says Hoskinson. "I wanted to make something that every dog owner could carry with them in their kit."
After spending about six months tinkering with various designs and prototypes, the Fido Pro Airlift was finally born: a lightweight, packable, one-size-fits-all, rescue device that creates a hammock-style backpack that can be used to carry your dog out of a bad situation.
Throughout the process, Hoskinson wanted to keep functionality, quality, and packability at the forefront of the design. Weighing a mere 10.5 ounces, Hoskinson believes that the Fido Pro is light enough for every person who adventures with their dog to always carry with them in their emergency kit.
It was also a high priority for Hoskinson to keep the product locally made in Colorado while only using materials made in the U.S. However, affordability was important, too. With a price tag of $69.95, Hoskinson feels that the Fido Pro is both a worthwhile and affordable investment for most dog owners.
"Whether you're hiking in the summer or skiing in the winter with your dog, it's the owner's responsibility to be prepared for the worst, which is what the Fido Pro does," he says.
Headquartered in Carbondale, Colorado, the Fido Pro Airlift is currently patent pending and is available for sale on Fido Pro's website and in a few locally-owned outdoor recreation retailers in Colorado, like Neptune Mountaineering in Boulder and Bristlecone Mountain Sports in Basalt. However, in the coming months, Hoskinson hopes to expand sales to states like Utah, Montana, and Wyoming.
Taking your dog into the backcountry, and more specifically backcountry skiing, will always be controversial. However, the way Hoskinson sees it, people are going to continue to adventure and ski with their dogs.
"People are going to ski with their dogs. I'm going to ski with my dog. You can object to it, but dogs live for skiing,” he says.
The Fido Pro, like an avalanche airbag, is not meant to be used all the time. Quite frankly, Hoskinson hopes that it never has to be used. But, in case of an emergency, it's not something you'll regret having.