Instead of resigning his dog to retirement, however, Rohrig started formulating a plan to help Katana regain her confidence.
After doing some initial training with Katana, Rohrig eventually resolved to take her on the Florida Trail: a grueling 1,100-mile hike through the swamps and rivers of the Everglades.
“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.”
Over the next 72 days, the two braved alligators, snakes, busy highways, blown-down trees and sometimes a trail that simply vanished into the overgrowth. “The Florida Trail was about as monotonous and grueling as it comes,” Rohrig said.
“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.”
Katana hiked on her own every day — even if it was only for a mile or two. Whenever trail conditions got too tough, Rohrig would loop the pup’s agile 21-pound frame over his shoulders and backpack, where she would recline as if resting on her couch at home, Rohrig noted: “It was a great system that worked incredibly well.”