Over the 2017 Memorial Day weekend, Paul and his dog Remi were backcountry skiing with a group of friends on Independence Pass outside of Aspen, Colorado. They had spent several hours ascending to to the top of a bowl. Paul was the first to drop in, but unbeknownst to him, Remi had quickly caught up to him as he skied slowly through some old slide debris. As Paul made a series of turns, he felt one of his skis make contact with Remi. He quickly skied to a stop near the bottom of the bowl and looked to see if Remi had been injured. He saw that she was unable to support herself on her right front leg. As Paul looked closer, he was horrified with what he saw- a deep gash on her leg caused by his ski edge.
Things could have gone very badly from this point on. Fortunately for Paul, he had the help of his friends and was somewhat prepared to tend to Remi's wound. He removed his first aid kit and his friend Chuck helped him wrap the wound and stop the bleeding. His other friends began dividing up the contents of Paul's daypack to carry his gear out. Once the wound was dressed, they squeezed Remi into Paul's now-empty backpack and she barely fit. They began the long ascent out of the bowl to safety and medical help.
Remi's injury was to her right front leg- she sustained a cut that severed her two extensor tendons, rendering her right front paw useless. After exiting the backcountry that day, Paul rushed Remi to an emergency veterinarian, where surgery was performed to reconnect the tendons. Remi was given a 50-50 chance of fully recovering, as tendons are extremely difficult to heal. Following the surgery, Remi was in a brace for eight weeks, which needed to be changed and cleaned weekly. Once the brace was removed, Paul and Remi began to slowly rehab her leg. After a few months, they were back on the trails again and we are happy to report she has since made a complete recovery!
The day of the accident, as bad as it was, could have been far worse. Had Paul been alone, he would have had no choice but to empty his backpack of his expensive gear and leave it behind. If his backpack hadn't been big enough for Remi to squeeze into, he would have attempted to carry her in his arms up a steep and long ski ascent which would have been near impossible. Most likely, Paul would have had to abandon his beloved companion in the cold mountains in order to go for 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.