A Hurt Dog in the Backcountry: Coordinating a Four-pawed Rescue

inReach® Rescue for a Hurt Dog in the Backcountry | Garmin

Kinga Philipps is no stranger to outdoor adventures. In fact, it’s her whole life. The writer, producer and television journalist has spent the past 20 years traveling the globe, diving, spearfishing, surfing, swimming with sharks, kitesurfing, bungee jumping, free diving and mountain biking — just to name a few.

The day that Philipps ultimately needed an inReach® satellite communication device, however, was not for her. It was for her dog, Lusha.

It was the second day of a relatively easy 3-day backpacking trip when the accident happened. Lusha, an athletic, high-energy dog used to accompanying Philipps on hiking trips, was jumping off rocks near some hot springs when — unbeknownst to Philipps — she cut her paw. Within a few hours, Lusha began limping. Philipps checked the pads of her paws and saw that one was cut.

Carrying the 80-lb dog was not an option, so Philipps bandaged the paw to try to get Lusha closer to the end of the trail. It wasn’t long before Lusha simply laid down and would not walk farther. Her other paw pads were starting to tear as she was compensating in her stride.

At that point, Philipps realized she needed help. Lusha would not be able to make it any farther, and they were still deep in the backcountry.

Philipps ran to a nearby camping area where she came across two teachers and a crew of kids from a local school. They followed her back with a tarp and carried Lusha to the camp. Once at the camp, one of the teachers retrieved their inReach device and offered to coordinate a rescue.

“I was very grateful, as my alternate option would be to leave Lusha and hike out an additional 5 miles and drive all the way back to Ojai where there was reception to call for help,” Philipps said. “Bo messaged my friends, who contacted the Ojai Sheriff’s Department and the all-volunteer Ojai Search and Rescue (SAR) team.”

The next day, the volunteer SAR team arrived to help transport Lusha to safety, prepared with a stretcher that had all-terrain wheels.  

“It was the key to our aid coming quickly and efficiently,” Philipps said. “I am now a big fan of the inReach and recommend it to all my backpacker friends.”

Even for an individual who is highly experienced in risk management, a simple issue can become a big deal when out of the realms of communication. An issue can happen at any time — to you, a party member, a stranger or even a dog.

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