Hiker Carries His Blind Dog 800 Miles Through Florida Wilderness

If you’re anything like me, you want to take your dog with you wherever you go. One man decided to do just that when he planned an epic long distance hike. Kyle Rohrig organized an 83-day trek through Florida. But, he wanted a companion for his travels and he had the perfect one at home. But there was a catch. His dog is blind.

Two Long Distance Hikers

Rohrig and Katana, an eight-year-old Shiba Inu, hiked many trails together before their Florida trek. According to The Dodo, the pair completed a completed the 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail together.

Unfortunately, Katana started losing her vision during the middle of the 2,650-mile hike of the Pacific Crest Trail. Glaucoma clouded her left eye and they had to leave their trip so Katana could have surgery.

And then things went from bad to worse. Less than two years later, Katana lost vision in her right eye. The ailment made her less confident. Rohrig told The Dodo, “At first she was very cautious and timid about doing anything. She seemed unsure of herself.”

A New Kind of Journey

While Katana began to adapt to her new normal, Rohrig started thinking about their next trip. He said,

“I had my eye on the Florida Trail for a couple of years, but never made any official plans to hike it. After Katana went blind, I thought it would be the perfect trail to help her really come to terms with her new circumstances. We’d been eating and sleeping her blindness for months, but out there on the trail, we’d be breathing it as well.”

Things would have to be different this time. Although the trail was flat, it was also muddy, buggy, and wet. They trekked through lands inhabited by alligators and snakes. They encountered busy highways, blown-down trees and sometimes vanished trails. This was no easy feat for a blind dog and her human.

During the journey, Katana hiked on her own every day. Sometimes, only for a mile or two, but she continued to regain her confidence. When trail conditions were too dangerous, Rohrig put Katana over his shoulders and backpack to carry her. In addition to his pack, Rohrig carried Katana’s 21 pounds. At the end of her journey, he tallied 800 miles of carrying his beloved pup. That’s dedication!

It was a life-changing experience for both human and canine. Rohrig said,

We love this beautiful story of friendship! For more on their travels together, read Rohrig’s blog.

H/T The Mind Unleashed
Featured Image: Kyle (Mayor) Instagram

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