Tidbits & Tails - Bite-Sized Bits of Pet Info

Blind Man Hiked the Applachian Trail With the Help of His Guide Dog

The Appalachian Trail is the world's longest marked trail, at a whopping 2144 miles long! Most people hike only parts of the trail. A few attempt to walk the entire trail, with most of them failing to complete it.

In 1990, Bill Irwin decided he wanted to complete the trail. What makes this goal remarkable is that Mr. Irwin is blind. His hiking companion was his guide dog, a German Shepherd named Orient. Orient's paws obviously bore the brunt of the rough terrain, and on a couple of occasions the team stopped for several days of rest while Orient's paws healed. On another occasion Orient's guide dog harness and pack ended up causing friction burns. Mr. Irwin carried Orient's pack for several weeks until the dog had healed. They worked together as a team to navigate the obstacles along the trail, include cliffs and streams, safeguarding each other.

They successfully completed the trail in 1990.