Kyle Rohrig and his dog Katana used to complete thousand-mile hikes without breaking a sweat – but when the adventurous pup lost her vision, she also lost her confidence.
The dynamic duo had been halfway through completing the 2,650-mile hike of the Pacific Crest Trail when Katana’s left eye started to cloud over from glaucoma.
Rohrig and Katana took a break from the trail so she could undergo surgery for her vision loss, but they quickly returned to the west coast so they could finish the hike.
Two years later, Katana was blind in both eyes – and Rohrig was heartbroken to see his once-intrepid hiking companion anxiously attempting to maneuver their living room.
Instead of resigning his dog to retirement, however, Rohrig started formulating a plan to help Katana regain her confidence.
After doing some initial training with Katana, Rohrig eventually resolved to take her on the Florida Trail: a grueling 1,100-mile hike through the swamps and rivers of the Everglades.
The two began their journey in early January. Despite her disability, Katana would walk a few miles of the trail on her own every day. Whenever the companions encountered marshes or floodwaters, Rohrig would strap the 21-pound pup onto his backpack and carry her through the treacherous terrain.
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From bottom to top, thru hiking the 1,100+ mile Florida Trail with a blind dog has been the greatest test of patience and perseverance I've experienced on a hike thus far. Was it worth it? Yes, every step. Thank you all for the continued love and support in what I do! It truly is not possible without you. Lots more adventure to come this year! Stay tuned... . . . . #floridatrail #thruhiking #travel #nature #adventure #wanderlust #photooftheday #picoftheday #dog #dogoftheday #dogstagram #dogsofinstagram #doglover #campingwithdogs #hiking #backpacking #dogs #hikingwithdogs #Shiba #ShibaInu #hikingdog #traveldog #adventuredog #animallovers #instadog #doglover #doglife #dogs #ilovemydog #petstagram
After 72 days of hiking, they finished the trail in late March. Collectively, Rohrig had carried Katana for 800 miles – but since Katana had also walked 200 miles of the trail all on her own, she had undergone a noticeable transformation.
“I don’t know exactly how she did it, but she could lead me down the trail perfectly, without hitting a single obstacle while accounting for every twist and turn in the trail,” Rohrig told The Dodo. “Katana went from cautious and timid to confident and curious.”
“She’s not just dealing with her new circumstances — she’s thriving, and she’s thriving wherever she goes,” Rohrig added. “We have many more adventures planned, and I’m going to keep taking her until she ceases to enjoy them. We’re both living the dream.”
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