by Brian Whitney
Mike Minnick and his rescue dog, Bixby, are on a bicycle tour of the United States. Their goal? To promote pet adoption across the nation.
The two started their journey from the town of Terlingua, Texas, where they had lived in an abandoned school bus. Mike bought a Yuba Mundo cargo bike, mounted a comfortable bed for Bixby on the back, and the pair set out to bike across the country, a interactive trip they’re documenting on their Facebook page and website.
So far Mike and Bixby have cycled close to 10,000 miles through 31 states while spreading the word about rescue dogs. And they are still at it, most recently in Madison, Wisconsin.
Mike is not the best communicator, so Bixby handles most of their social media. And she’s eager to talk about biking across the country as a rescue dog.
How it all began
Ruff Ruff Bark Woof Howl Bark Woof.
I’m Ruffin’ sorry.. Perhaps you may not know how to speak canine. You should really learn. There are millions of us all around you, and you’re missing out if you don’t know what we’re Ruffing.
Honestly, I feel like I won the human lottery. My life started out pretty scary. When I was born, I had brothers and sisters and a mom. I really never knew my dad. Within a few weeks of being born, my entire world was torn apart. My siblings and I were ripped away from our home, put in a cardboard box, and transported to a shelter in Austin, TX. I was so confused. There were hundreds of other dogs sitting in wire cares with cold cement floors. There were noises everywhere. The older pups would tell me, “Don’t worry, you’ll be okay” and “You’re young, you’re cute, you’ll be adopted soon.”. I didn’t understand. Adopted? I didn’t want to be adopted. I just wanted my mom and my siblings back.
When I realized that wasn’t going to happen, I decided I had to grow up. So, I started waiting for the perfect human, and when I saw him, I was going to pull out all the stops. I wanted him to know that I would change his life forever. I wanted him to know that I would keep him safe, and that I would be a shoulder to cry on. I would keep him company when he was sad or lonely, and in return, all that I would ask is that he would love me. I would ask that he would free me from the shelter forever, and help me rescue the rest of my friends from potential harm.
My human takes me everywhere he can. One day, I guess he was feeling extra adventurous when he decided to plan a cross-country trip. I knew that it was my time to help him achieve his full potential in life. After all, she’s helped me achieve mine. That’s what I told him as he was doubting whether or not he was brave enough to leave his life behind, take a chance, and follow his dreams. “Dreams are like sticks,” I told him. “You just have to chase them.”
Thanks to my human, I’ve become the most free dog in the country. He found this Yuba cargo bike that allows me to have my comfy bed right in our bicycle as he pedals us all over the country. The best part? I get to play fetch with thousands of humans. I get to educate young humans about the responsibility of being a good friend to us pooches. I get to show humans that us shelter dogs can save their lives, just as they save ours. I’ve been given an awesome responsibility, but I found the perfect human with whom to spend my life.
My favorite part of the journey so far has been watching my human finally find his way in life. Many humans don’t realize that the term “rescue dog” goes two ways. Yes, I was rescued from a shelter and given a new home, but I also have a purpose. A job to do, if you will. That job is to help humans find their way, deal with stress, , and in some cases, help save lives.
We rescue dogs have a special magic that is unique. Sometimes it’s hard for humans to believe in our magic, but once they realize it, they surrender and put their full trust in us. My human gave me a million reasons why he couldn’t ride a bike across the country. “I’m too old”,: “I’m out of shape,” “It’s too dangerous.” All excuses based on fear! I hear him now explaining to other humans that they too can do things they think impossible. It really makes me proud of him.
I think I’ve helped Mike conquer his fears. All that I ask is that he help me help others in need. There are literally millions of us rescue dogs all over the world looking for our perfect humans, and I want to save as many as possible. I’m one of the lucky ones that found my human in the first few months of my life. Others are not so lucky.
Beyond that, I get to play fetch in the most beautiful places in the country. I get belly rubs and treats from strangers and friends. I get to be on TV and inspire humans everywhere to give us shelter dogs a chance. I’m proud to be an ambassador to shelter dogs everywhere. It’s an honor, and one I don’t take for granted.
We left our Texas home and headed to Maine to start our big journey in Maine. We intended to officially start from Bar Harbor, but when we got there it was so built up and expensive that we decided to try to find a smaller spot with less tourists. We continued east, and as we turned towards Lubec, we saw a sign that read “Eastern most town in the US.” At that moment, I knew that we had found our spot. We made our way into town, and it was like some Norman Rockwell painting from long ago. It was a cool fishing town with 200–year-old buildings and seals, and we played fetch and watched the tide from the Bay of Fundy roll in and out. We ended up hanging in Lubec for 3 weeks, and it made such an impression that we’re trying to make it back there now.
Then there was New York City. My human was pretty intimidated to pedal into NYC at first. Our bicycle is huge and there’s so many people and so much traffic there that we thought it would really be dangerous. As we pedaled on into Manhattan and through Central Park and Times Square, we realized that it wasn’t as dangerous as it’s made out to be. People weren’t rude to us. I felt like a star! People everywhere would stop and pet me and take my picture. The only really dangerous part were the taxi cabs, which seem to be driven by a bunch of ruffin’ barkholes that honk at everything. But once we got used to it, it was such a pleasure to pedal around NYC. There’s so much history there and so many humans doing crazy things.
Then Holy Ruffin’ Wow New Orleans! We arrived in NOLA at 2:30 in the morning the Saturday before Fat Tuesday. Places with pooch friendly patios stay open all night! When we pulled up to one, we were immediately offered a couch for the night. The next day they offered to let us come with them to pedal in a Mardi Gras Parade. Let me just say that this pup knows how to get some beads. It was so much fun being in the parade. We met up with the executive director of the Louisiana Humane Society who held a press conference to introduce the city to us. New Orleans is one of the most colorful, musical, magical places I’ve ever been, and I can’t wait till this spring when we pedal back through there.
I also loved Carmel California. We went there during the Pebble Beach golf tournament . My human and I were even on the news and the front page of the local paper! I felt like such a movie star in California. Every business, from banks and coffee shops to candy stores and restaurants were all dog friendly. I Ruff Carmel.
About Their Mission
It’s a responsibility. I have to do it, and I’ve been lucky enough to get a human who really helps me achieve this. When we get an email or a Facebook message from a pooch we’ve highlighted and they have found their forever home, it feels incredible! When I see humans in the kind of condition my human was in when I found him, and I see how their lives have improved, and the dreams that they are chasing thanks to their rescue dog, I know that I’m making a difference. That’s what I’m here for. After all, I am a rescue dog.
Splash Photo courtesy of www.westwaypets.com