When Kyle Rohrig made the decision to bring Katana, his blind Shiba Inu pup aged 8 years old, on a 1,100-mile hike through the Florida trail, he knew it wouldn’t be easy.
Before she began to lose her vision, Katana had accompanied her Dad on many other hikes. Together, they’d braved the 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail. In the middle of their next big expedition through the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail, something happened, and Katana’s eye became clouded with glaucoma. After surgery and being given the all-clear, they went right back and finished the trail.
Then, two years later, her right eye lost vision, too. Suddenly, the newly blind dog was nervous and anxious. From her bright, overly confident self, she became timid and extremely careful about everything. Rohrig wanted to bring Katana back out for another hike to help her learn to acclimatize to her lack of vision.
On the 8th of January, Rohrig and Katana set off from the Big Cypress trailhead, located in the Everglades, towards the end of their trail in Fort Pickens. Rohrig expected it would take around two or three months for them to reach their goal.
Every day, they braved the flat but muddy, wet, and swampy trail infested with bugs, snakes, and even alligators. They crossed busy highways, vanishing trails, and knocked over trees that obscured their way. Despite its monotonous nature, it was a difficult and grueling trek.
Every day, Katana would do a little of her own hiking, then, when the trail became difficult, Rohrig would carry her 21-pound frame over his backpack and shoulders. Even if she couldn’t hike on her own much, she loved the exploration, and she managed around 200 miles of the trail on her own over the course of their 72-day journey.
The expedition reached its end at the end of March, and Katana was a changed pup. She was strong, confident, and capable of leading Rohrig through the trail without stumbling.
Now, Katana and Rohrig are back home, and she’s learned to love and appreciate adventure. She’s no longer frightened of the world, and she’s truly thriving and having a great time!
Images & Feature Image Source: Instagram/_roamad_