Now, meet Kyle Rohrig, 29, who knew it would be risky to take Katana along on the long hikes, but he refused to go alone. The reason was beautiful - He needed to get Katana's confidence back.
When Katana lost her vision in the right eye, she became extra cautious. "She was very jerky in her movements and would second guess herself at every turn" said Kyle.
"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.
All of this seemed pretty normal given her new circumstances, but due to her personality and past accomplishments this was heartbreaking to witness".
Kyle knew he had to do something: take her along the 1100 mile hike on the Florida Trail.
‘Taking Katana on the Florida Trail as a recently blind dog was a calculated risk,’ Kyle explained. ‘In order for her to be as successful at being blind as possible – she needed to “live” her blindness. ‘To explore and reach her full potential, she needed to be worked with full time and in constantly changing and evolving environments/landscapes. ‘Sure, she could memorize the layout of a house and live out the rest of her days in familiar comfort but then she would only be great at navigating one place. ‘When I brought Katana out here, it was either to sink or swim. The only catch being… I wasn’t going to let her sink.
We’d been eating and sleeping her blindness for months, but once out there on the trail, we’d be breathing it as well.’
Over the next 72 days, Kyle and Katana crossed busy highways, faced alligators, snakes and disappearing paths along the way. The plan worked – as they continued along their hike, Katana regained her confidence, falling back in love with adventure. Katana hiked more than 200 miles of the trail herself, but Kyle carried her for the remaining travels. Kyle said: ‘She stopped second-guessing herself and her surroundings and began taking big bites out of life like she used to. She gained back her spark, as well as the flair that has always made her unique.