Man helps blind dog regain confidence by hiking 1,100 miles together

A Florida man went above and beyond to help his blind dog regain her confidence, according to the Dodo

Kyle Rohrig of Navarre and his 8-year-old Shiba Inu, Katana, recently completed a 1,100-mile hike across the Florida Trail together after Katana completely lost her eyesight late last year. The journey was meant to help the canine adjust to her blindness. 

"I had my eye on the Florida Trail for a couple of years, but never made any official plans to hike it," he said. "After Katana went blind, I thought it would be the perfect trail to help her really come to terms with her new circumstances."

Three years ago, Rohrig and his dog were in the middle of a 2,650-mile hike of the Pacific Crest Trail on the U.S.' West Coast when Katana started to lose her eyesight. Katana was reportedly afflicted with glaucoma in her left eye, forcing the pair to leave their trail in search of help. 

Though Katana received surgery and completed the rest of the hike, she lost vision in her right eye less than two years later. As a result, the once cheerful Shiba Inu became apprehensive. 

"At first she was very cautious and timid about doing anything," Rohrig recalled. "She seemed unsure of herself."

In an effort to help Katana build her self-esteem, Rohrig decided in January to take her on a hike that began at a trailhead at the Big Cypress National Preserve near Miami. He estimated, at the time, that the journey across Florida to Fort Pickens would take between two and three months. 

10 PHOTOS
Florida man hikes with his blind dog
See Gallery
Florida man hikes with his blind dog
This was our second day on the Florida Trail down in the Everglades and Katana was already bored to death. It's a rough life, but somebody's gotta do it. . @thedodo @campingwithdogs . . . #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
Streamlining several of our favorite activities into one activity - hiking, fishing, quality time, sunbathing, beach walking, piggy back riding. On another note, I can't help but notice a random influx in followers today. I don't seem to have been tagged in anything, so if any of you newbies see this, please let me know where this random new (and appreciated!) traffic is coming from. Thanks! . . . . . #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
She is her human's keeper... . 📸@shawshikerhostel . . . . . #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
Nose goes . . . . . #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
If we were actually homeless panhandlers... we'd be making the big bucks. . . . . #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
So cute it's pathetic. Even after all these years, I'm still not immune. . . . . #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
Back in the before times, in the long long ago... of the Florida Trail. . . . . #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
A halfway solution to remedying cold ears . . . . #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
Sights unseen, she walks the line. . . . . #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
It's a hard life, but somebody's gotta do it . . . . #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
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

The hike, however, proved tougher than Rohrig had hoped. 

"It was very wet, muddy, buggy and at times we were wading through water, mud or swamp for miles ... sometimes up to my waist," he said. "It was a tough, wet year to hike this trail."

Still, Katana managed to hike over 200 miles on her own. Whenever she and Rohrig hit a roadblock during the hike, Rohrig would carry her 21-pound frame on his back. 

"She loved every second of the freedom out there and getting to explore new places," Rohrig said. "I truly think that's every dog's dream."

The pair finally reached their destination in late March. By then, Katana had regained her self-confidence and was able to navigate on her own, Rohrig said. 

"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," he told the Dodo. "Katana went from cautious and timid to confident and curious."

More importantly, the experience was transformative for not only his dog but for Rohrig himself as well, he added.

"It was emotional seeing her do so well as if nothing had changed since our nostalgic days when [we first got] into long-distance hiking," Rohrig said. 

Read Full Story

Sign up for the Best Bites by AOL newsletter to get the most delicious recipes and hottest food trends delivered straight to your inbox every day.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.