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Florida man, blind dog complete 1,100-mile hike across the state

Posted at 8:21 AM, Apr 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-29 08:51:03-04

MIAMI (AP) — A Florida man and his blind dog have completed a 1,100 mile hike across the Sunshine State.

Kyle Rohrig is an avid hiker and his Shiba Inu named Katana usually accompanies him.

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Katana has easily logged 30 miles a day on their past trails, but when the Japanese hunting dog lost both eyes to Glaucoma two months before the trek, Rohrig worried how she would fare on the trail.

"I was concerned over how she would do on the trail, but not only did she do better than I ever thought she would - she did incredible!," Rohrig told ABC Action News. "I couldn't even tell she was blind 75% of the time! The Florida Trail wasn't a very hospitable trail, and if trail conditions had been better, she would have hiked hundreds more miles on her own."

Along with a friend, Rohrig and Katana headed north on the trail from Big Cypress near Miami in January and finished April 1 at Fort Pickens near Pensacola.

"Seeing her hike and lead me down the trail like she has for thousands of miles in the past, despite having no eyes now - was very emotional for me. It was a combination of proud happiness and relief at knowing her quality of life, as well as the lifestyle we've grown accustomed to, wouldn't be negatively affected like you might think. The little dog hasn't missed a beat." — Kyle Rohrig

The Daytona Beach News-Journal reports Rohrig hoisted Katana, who weighs 21 pounds, onto his backpack when they approached deep swampy areas and treacherous spots. He estimates he carried her for more than 800 miles.

When asked what was next Rohrig told ABC Action News, "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."