Kyle Rohrig has always loved hiking.
Rohrig loves exploring different parks, and he’s also a big fan of going on multi-day backpacking trips. He has explored countless parks throughout the United States.
Rohrig’s life began changing when he met a woman named Dixie. The two moved in together and adopted an adorable Shiba Inu named Katana. Dixie, Rohrig, and Katana did some day hikes together, but Rohrig usually did his multi-day trips on his own.
When Rohrig left for his long hikes, he noticed that Katana seemed upset. He started wondering if she would want to go on these hikes with him. He decided to try taking her on an easy trail, and she loved it!
Just like that, Rohrig had the perfect hiking companion.
“She loved every second of the freedom out there and getting to explore new places,” Rohrig told The Dodo. “I truly think that’s every dog’s dream.”
Rohrig and Katana began going on longer and longer hikes together. After lots of training, they embarked on the 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail.
Katana and Rohrig both loved hiking the Appalachian Trail. The pair loved the challenge of doing such a long hike, and they had a great time together.
After their success on the Appalachian Trail, Rohrig decided he wanted to try the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail next. At first, things went well on the hike. But in the middle of the trail, things started to go wrong.
Katana began having vision problems, and one of her eyes became cloudy. Rohrig immediately decided to cut his hike short and take his pup to the vet.
At the vet, Rohrig learned that poor Katana had glaucoma, and the vet had to remove her eye to help alleviate the pup’s pain. The vet did the surgery, and Katana recovered well. She and Rohrig were even able to go back and finish the Pacific Crest Trail. However, the vet warned Rohrig that Katana would probably have to have her other eye removed in the future.
Two years later, the glaucoma spread to Katana’s other eye, and it was also removed. The pup was now blind, and unfortunately, she had trouble adjusting to living without sight.
“At first she was very cautious and timid about doing anything,” Rohrig said. “She seemed unsure of herself.”
Rohrig wanted to help the pup regain her confidence, and he knew just how to do that: taking her on a hike! He chose the 1,100-mile Florida Trail, a trail that goes through swampland and pine forest.
“I had my eye on the Florida Trail for a couple of years, but never made any official plans to hike it,” Rohrig said. “After Katana went blind, I thought it would be the perfect trail to help her really come to terms with her new circumstances.”
When Rohrig got onto the trail, he realized how challenging this hike would be. Even though it was flat, it was very muddy, and the trail was flooded in parts. Rohrig often had to carry Katana on his back through the water.
As Rohrig and Katana hiked down the trail, Rohrig saw her confidence growing. At first, Katana hid behind Rohrig, letting him take the lead. But soon, she began running out in front of him, happily sprinting down the trail.
“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 said. “Katana went from cautious and timid to confident and curious.”
By the time they finished the trail, Katana had regained her confidence, and she loved hiking again! Rohrig was so happy to see how much his pup had grown.
“It was emotional seeing her do so well,” he said, “as if nothing had changed since our nostalgic days when first getting into long-distance hiking.”
Katana is a brave dog who won’t let anything stop her from living her best life! If you’d like to see more photos of Rohrig and Katana on their hiking trips, check out Rohrig’s Instagram page.
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h/t: Honest to Paws