Over the last year many people have spotted a 4-year-old pointer mix named Bixby riding on the back of a cargo bike traveling across the United States with her human Mike Minnick (38), and a rubber safety chicken named Charlie (?). Why are they biking across the United States? To raise awareness of the importance of supporting your local animal shelters. Have you spotted Bixby yet?
The threesome started their adventure last May. Minnick got the idea after he met Tim and Noah Hussin (The Coyote Brothers) when his truck broke down in the Big Bend National Park in 2011; the brothers where biking their way across the United States making a documentary called America Recycled. It would take Minnick, Bixby, and Charlie another two years before they would embark on their own great “Where’s Bixby,” adventure.
The Bixby team has already peddled their way through 22-states, and now they are biking their way through the Midwest and heading up to the northern half of the United States. “Though our plans change often enough, we plan on next hitting, possibly the tip of Missouri, then Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and California. From there there's no telling, but I don't want to stop.” Minnick said in an exclusive Examiner interview.
Minnick adopted Bixby from an animal shelter in Texas when she was only six-weeks-old, and they have been best friends ever since. When I asked Minnick what the best part of traveling with his best friend has been, he replied, “The best part of traveling with my best friend is definitely all the people we meet. I mean, not only do I get to travel with my pooch and play fetch in all these beautiful places, but generally everyone around us approaches us with a smile and generally wants to know what we’re doing. Bixby gets people to let their guard down and people who would otherwise just pass by and try to avoid making eye contact take a second look when they see my cute pup on the back of my bike and they approach us and want to know our story. We get invited into people’s homes all the time to stay a night or for dinner all because of Bixby. It's also fun just to make her smile, and she smiles a lot. She is a shining example of what a rescue dog can be.”
I asked Minnick what he thought Bixby might like the best about their adventure and he replied, “I'm quite certain that Bixby's favorite part of the journey is fetch. She absolutely loves to teach humans how to play fetch. In a park or in any public area she will bring her ball or stick or whatever she can find and she will drop it at everyone's foot and look at them as if to say, "Do you know how to play this game? It’s easy. I'll teach you." We're so lucky that nearly everyone likes to play fetch with a dog, especially kids and Bixby loves the little humans. She gets no shortage of treats as well. Sometimes I like to remind people that I like treats too. I like though, that I've made this trip mostly about my pooch.”
When I asked Minnick what the future holds for the team he stated, “The future is wide open. I mean, by the time we make California we will have been through around 30 states; perhaps we will try and hit them all. We've been featured in a Paris magazine and one in Italy. Perhaps if we can figure out the right sponsors we can pedal Europe one day. This trip has truly changed my life. I was never an avid cyclist, I was a smoker, I was considerable more unhealthy before I took this endeavor. I would love to keep it going. I love that we have been given a platform to help other animals get adopted, as well as to show that bicycles are viable forms of transportation. Eventually I would like to write a kids book about our travels, from Bixby's perspective of course and Chicken Charlie and Lesta Bear. It will be a sort of travel guide with a positive message of how to treat animals, and the joy of adopting animals.
I then asked Minnick if there was anything he would like to say to the readers and he answered, “As for the readers...first and foremost Hug Your Dogs! If you don't have a dog, hug your neighbor’s dog, then you'll want a dog and you can go to your local rescue or pound and rescue a dog. We don't discriminate either. We know some humans are more cat people. There are lots of cats and dogs that have very unfortunate outcomes if us humans don't adopt them and spay and neuter them once you have them. Life is more fun with a pet and there's science behind the happiness and well being that pets bring you. So support your local animal shelters and rescue agencies. If you would like to follow and support our adventure across the country please check out wheresbixby.com, Where’s Bixby on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and if you see us passing by your way, do not hesitate to give us a shout and come out and throw a ball for Bixby.
Minnick, Bixby, and Charlie rely on the generosity of the public to continue the “Where’s Bixby” adventure, so if you would like to host them overnight, or donate, please contact Minnick on the Where’s Bixby website.