Racing Winter on the Pacific Crest Trail – Day 141, 142, 143, 144


September 3rd-5th

Portland/Cascade Locks 

So I ended up taking 4 days off when I arrived in Portland to meet my mystery guest and girlfriend.  The wait for this mystery individual is finally over (for me and you), and I finally get to lift the curtains…Katana is back.  

It’s been nearly 2 months since last I saw the little demon; the longest we’ve ever been apart in the 6 years since she took ownership of me.  She’s been with my girlfriend this whole time (Katana has known her for her entire life), and I must say,  I can tell the little dog has had no discipline in her life for the past two months (I’m about the only person who can get a handle on her). SO, it’s going to be fun reconditioning her to trail life. 

I flew Katana and the girlfriend out to Portland from Florida; Katana’s first airplane adventure, and she did amazing; quiet as a mouse, no fidgeting, no accidents. 

There are some very serious updates to her condition that I’ve kept hush-hush since the last time I took her home, back in early July.  The decision to bring her back out was not taken lightly, and as you might guess, there have been improvements/changes to her condition that prompted me to have her brought back out.  

Rewind back to early July. The pressure in her Glaucoma affected eye was fluctuating up and down, but mostly hovering around a pressure reading in the 30s; fairly high and uncomfortable for a dog.  Sometimes it was higher,  sometimes lower,  giving her good days, bad days, and just plain unpredictable days.  Even with medication we couldn’t completely control the pressure in a consistent manner, so we had to explore the next option…

When we first got her into an Ophthalmologist back in early June,  he determined that her left eye was already completely blind.  His recommendation was to have it removed,  because there was no point medicating a blind eye that was essentially useless,  and also causing pain and discomfort.  I didn’t want to take this route initially, instead wanting to see how the medication would do. Well,  the medication was hit or miss as we all found out,  and I (and Katana) will only settle for “hits.”

Not long after dropping her off in Florida again, back in early July, and after several more vet visits to check her eye pressure…a decision was made.  The only way to eliminate the pain she was having on an almost daily basis,  was to remove the eye; that was the next inevitable step.  I wanted to be home for that operation,  thinking that it would be something serious, but the vet assured us that it was actually a very simple outpatient procedure that only required 2 days of pain killers, 10 days of antibiotics, and then they’re basically golden.  So I pulled the trigger to have the operation done. 

At the time, the decision to have the eye removed was purely to eliminate her pain once and for all.  I must admit though, with the quick recovery time the vet and Ophthalmologist described, part of me felt that she could possibly rejoin me if she seemed to be doing well,  and her doctors gave her the “go ahead.”

Literally within 3 days of the operation, Katana was back to her old self; raising hell and running amuck. No more sleeping all day and hiding under the bed.  There was no adjustment period to having one eye,  because she’d only been able to see out of one of them for several months already; the adaptation had already taken place. The only ones who had to adapt now were the humans closest to her…adapt to seeing her with only one eye.  

When I saw a picture of her, post operation,  it was nearly too much for me. Good God did it look bad.  I was assured that it looked much worse than it actually was,  and this was mostly due to the fact that they had to shave the fur around her eye to perform the operation. Still,  I knew it would take some getting used to on my part.  

The Vet and Ophthalmologist cleared her to hike two weeks after the operation. After some close monitoring of her behavior, she was found to be in no more pain,  and 100% back to her old spunky self.  Naturally,  I was ecstatic to hear this information and immediately wanted her to come back out and finish what she started with me; so we set a date for her to fly out,  and the rest is history.  

I decided she’d hike the final state with me,  Washington. It’s funny,  because after doing Oregon, this state would have been perfect for a dog, as 85% – 90% of the trail was fairly smooth and “paws friendly.” 

The reunion with Katana and my girlfriend in Portland was great. Alicia was only able to stay for two days before flying out on Monday, but the time was quality. I can’t thank her enough for making this trip out here with the pup.  

Katana has been a bundle of joy,  and after only a couple days,  I’ve been getting used to her new appearance. Little dog doesn’t seem to carry herself any different; everything has been business as usual for her.  The hair is growing back around her eye,  but it still has a way to go.  I’m looking forward to the day when it’s completely grown in,  that way it’ll simply look like she’s winking, instead of blatantly missing an eyeball.  

If I thought the “Katana Questions” were bad before,  they’re about to get worse.  I can already hear them…. “Does that dog only have one eye?”  “What happened to her eye?” “How does it affect her?” Etc, etc. Instead of making up stories about what kind of dog she is,  I’ll now get to make up wild tales of how she lost her eye.  I’ll get my shock value entertainment one way or another, hah.  

I’ve been a huge believer in blessings in disguise since the AT, as well as always looking for the silver lining in every negative situation. We can use Katana’s condition to help raise awareness about Glaucoma in dogs.  She was misdiagnosed twice,  and as a result,  she lost her sight in the affected eye.  If we can help spread the word on what to look for when Glaucoma rears its ugly head,  we can get the proper help to dogs within the window of time they need it.  Being a part of many online Shiba Inu and dog forums, Alicia and I have already helped about 3 people get help for their dogs after they posted pictures online of swollen shut eyes.  The scary thing was that one of the vets for these dogs didn’t diagnose the dog with Glaucoma,  and didn’t want to run the test. We told them this might happen, so the owner insisted on the test.  Low and behold,  the dogs pressure was in the 50s… Glaucoma. That dog’s sight was salvaged because of the early catch and the owner’s insistence. We need to make sure there are more happy endings like this one.  

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous about the final 500 miles with Katana, but as always, we’ll take it one step at a time.  One thing is for sure…it’s going to be an adventure. The dynamic of the hike  is changing once again….


Go to day 145.

Interested in my PCT book?


  1. I have two Shibas, and we day hike in the Sierras around Lake Tahoe. I don’t FB, & my friend (who does FB) has been sending me pics of you & Katana periodically. Tonight she sent the pic of Katana on the PCT end post & I literally dropped my tablet in shock…I didn’t know about her eye! So I searched you out & found this site. So very glad I did! First off … Congrats at finishing!! You two are inspirations! Especially you, Kyle, for managing to take a Shiba out & off leash and actually getting her to LISTEN & OBEY you (sometimes). My devil twins are leashed all the time on trail, & I’ve been tempted, but never have dared to let them off. 2nd of all, the info on glaucoma in Shibas is important, & while I had heard about it, I never really paid a lot of attention. My Shibas will be 3YO next month, & I will be insisting on glaucoma screenings at their annual check up. There are no symptoms, but it won’t hurt to have it looked into. THANK YOU!

  2. I was so hoping your mystery guest was Katana!! Great news! The two of you will now be able to finish the last leg of your journey together. So exciting!!

  3. Yay! Great news, Kyle. So happy your little one is back, but so sorry she had to go through that. She’s as beautiful as ever.

  4. Yayyyy Katana is back!! How perfect for her to be able to finish the journey. I think you are quite correct that Katana will now become a major ambassador helping educate people about canine glaucoma. I think you should get a pirate patch for her – let her really show her shibatude! Enjoy your final 500 miles of the PCT 🙂

  5. I will just echo all the other posts: YAY for Katana being back on the trail with you!! And especially the fact that she is happy and spunky is even better news. You write with such feeling that I usually read your posts twice. I may read this one 3 times:) Be safe and I look forward to photos of you both.

  6. Dear Kyle,
    What a joy it was to read your post and hear that your lovely Katana is back. I don’t know how many times I thought about her and wondered how she was doing.
    God bless you all!

  7. Awesome news! So glad you are reunited and I’m thrilled that Katana is now out of pain and is back to her old self. It’s wonderful that you’re using this experience to raise awareness about Glaucoma. I wish you both a safe and enjoyable journey through Washington. Happy trails!

  8. I am so happy Katana is back with you and on the Katana.You made my day. She is going to be fine with one eye. My Mojo had to have one eye removed and she recovered much sooner than I did. You will be asked over and over again what happened to her eye, so get those stories ready. Safe travels to you and Katana.

  9. Katana is Back!…..Reading this blog, I was at first elated then shocked and saddened…..You both have my utmost admiration and respect!……Knowing of her spunk and quick wits I am certain she will find a safer, more victorious way to battle any other fire breathing dragons who threaten your safety……Glad she got there in time to save you!….Hike On brave adventurers!!!…..👍🌹❤️Love Katana🍀😃

    1. Wow! Sorry for all that you and Katana have been through but glad you are both survivors!! Looking forward to what’s ahead for your hiking. I thought you had already done the CDT but I will look forward to that! I understand it is poorly marked.

  10. So glad to hear Katana is back with you!
    I’m nearly finished with your AT book! lol don’t have much time to read, obviously.
    A pirate’s patch for her eye?

  11. Oh my gosh I am so excited to hear about Katana. This is just the most amazing news. I am so proud of you and your girlfriend for raising awareness of glaucoma as well as helping others with pushing for this diagnosis in their dogs. Katana is certainly a gift and I am happy that she will get to hike with you again. This is a very sweet story, Kyle. She is the best mystery guest ever!

  12. I AM SO HAPPY. i’ve been secretly hoping the mystery guest was katana but refusing to say it aloud for fear of disappointment. yay!

  13. I was thinking it might be Katana!! I listened as you told the story of the poodle bush and I had wondered if it weren’t something more. Dogs live in the here and now and don’t care about looks– only about the moment and their people! Glad the team is back together again. Happy trails!

  14. I am so happy my guess was right! It won’t be long and you and Katana will taking the trails like you never skipped a beat! Like you, I’ve heard of many of our breed with Glacoma and it seems inevitable the eye will be removed…its just a matter of when. The need for education is huge and you two are great ambassadors for the breed..hike on!

  15. I don’t remember reading a post feeling so overjoyed about Katana being back, but also so saddened by all that the poor little girl had to endure at the same time. Like you I believe n the silver lining and while she already adjusted and is obviously feeling tons better, you will have time to adjust as well. I hope the questions go easy and I know how hard it can be to repeat the same sad news over and over. She is a fighter just like you and even though you are nervous, I am so happy and it is the best news that you can complete the trail together. Best wishes and a great big hug for Catfox. And no word on Facebook or Insta of course. Safe travels….

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