Owner, dog travel across country to encourage pet adoption

Mike Minnick pedals his rescue dog Bixby to animal shelters nationwide

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A man and his dog made a stop in Jacksonville Wednesday along their cross-country tour to bring awareness to animal shelters and encourage pet adoption. 

The duo is currently pedaling across the nation, embarking on new adventures. But their journey first began when Mike Minnick adopted his pup, Bixby, from a shelter in Austin, Texas.

"She walked right up to me, she leaned against me and put her chin against my knee and just looked at me," Mike said.

Mike, who's doing his part to Keep Austin Weird, was immediately inspired by his new best friend to leave his old life behind and travel the country on a bike. 

"Bixby told me dreams are like sticks, you just have to chase them. And with that little pearl of wisdom, I quit smoking, traded my truck for a cargo bicycle and we hit the road," he said. 

So far, the 6-year-old rescue dog has traveled more than 19,000 miles and visited over 30 states while her human pedals a 300-pound bicycle that's strapped with a few necessities. 

"My tent, these are my clothes underneath," Mike said while showing News4Jax his bike. "Bixby, she has her very own sleeping bag."

PHOTOS: Mike, Bixby stop in Jacksonville

Along the way, they've visited more than 150 humane societies to encourage people to adopt, not shop. 

But, of course, they don't go anywhere without Bixby's beloved squeaky toy, "Chicken Charlie."

"He keeps an eye out behind us to make sure cars don't hit us," Mike explained.

At times, the trip can get "ruff."

"If I get stuck in a storm, I may be that guy under the bridge for a little while," Mike said.

But it's worth it to bring awareness to shelter animals -- using Bixby as an ambassador.

"Every dog in every shelter has the potential of being a Bixby and has the potential of taking their humans on adventures. It just seems like the right thing to do, to try to help as many of them out as possible," Mike said said.

And they've met so many new friends along the way. 

"She'll totally roll over on her back and let everybody pet her," Mike said. "It allows us the opportunity to be a part of and to smell and to see and experience the landscapes we're rolling through, it's really wonderful."

Mike says they often stop to play fetch, Bixby's favorite game.

Photos and videos of Mike and Bixby's travels have gone viral online as they document their journey on wheresbixby.com. The pair hopes to break a Guinness World Record for longest distance on an electric bike. To help fund their trip, you can made a donation at http://www.wheresbixby.com/donation-station/.