By Andrea Romano
May 22, 2019
Kyle Rohrig via Mediadrumimages

For many pet owners, their furry companions are part of the family. Sometimes, that also means making sure pets have the same lifestyle they love even after some major changes.

When his dog lost both of her eyes to glaucoma, Florida man Kyle Rohrig did just that. According to ABC Action News, Rohrig, an avid hiker, decided to take his Shiba Inu, Katana, on a 1,100-mile hike after her eye surgery, just like they’ve always done throughout her life.

Kyle Rohrig via Mediadrumimages

Katana has been Rohrig’s hiking buddy for years, clocking around 30 miles a day on some trails, ABC Action News reported. When she went blind, Rohrig feared he wouldn’t be able to take his trusty companion on the trails anymore. After two months of rehabilitating Katana after losing her sight, Rohrig naturally had some concerns.

“It would sometimes take her minutes to find the courage to hop up or down from the couch or even to cross a threshold from indoors to outdoors or vice versa – and she always needed gratuitous verbal encouragement to do any of it,” Rohrig told Metro. But Rohrig determined that the best way to ensure her quality of life was to try to help her adapt to her blindness, according to Metro.

Luckily, once they embarked on the trail, Katana didn’t seem phased by the new environment and was able to hold her own, using her other senses to guide her. Clearly, the two months Rohrig spent working with her paid off. Plus, the eight-year-old dog had been coping with fewer senses for a while, having lost one of her eyes at age five, according to the Daytona Beach News-Journal.

“I was worried she would be miserable and I would be miserable, but she rose to the occasion and did a lot better than I thought she would,” said Rohrig to the Daytona Beach News-Journal. For the most part, Rohrig said, she seemed just like her old self before she got sick.

Rohrig, one of his friends, and Katana set out on the trail in January, beginning in Big Cypress near Miami and finishing in April at Fort Pickens near Pensacola. Often times, Katana would take the lead and managed to stay directly on the trail.

Rohrig posted photos and video on his Facebook page showing Katana trekking along the trail. He was even able to guide her with his voice during some difficult portions.

In areas that were a little too rough or dangerous for the small, 21-pound dog, Rohrig would carry Katana in his backpack. Overall, according to the Daytona Beach News-Journal, Rohrig was carrying his hiking companion for about 800 miles of the journey.

Rohrig told ABC Action News that he plans to keep Katana with him as much as he can on the trail. “I have several future hikes planned for this year and next year totaling around 6,000 more miles. I don't want to mention the names of specific trails this early, but Katana will be joining me for close to 3,000 of those miles,” he told ABC Action News.

Kyle Rohrig via Mediadrumimages

Rohrig told the Daytona Beach News-Journal that he intends to take Katana on 272-mile Long Trail in Vermont later this month. After 1,100 miles in the Florida heat, the next trail will be a piece of cake for the little dog.

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