Published: Good Men Project (May 14, 2015)
The Good Men Project interviews Mike Minnick, who has been cycling across America with his dog Bixby.
Have you heard about the cyclist who’s been crisscrossing America with his dog in tow?
His name is Mike Minnick, and four years ago he was in a very different place, both literally and figuratively. As he describes it, he was “stuck in a tiresome job in Austin, TX, overweight, a chain smoker and bored with life.”
… Four years ago he was in a very different place, both literally and figuratively. As he describes it, he was ‘stuck in a tiresome job in Austin, TX, overweight, a chain smoker and bored with life.’
No one would think to call Minnick’s life tiresome or boring now. “When a friend offered me a Burning Man ticket I jumped at the opportunity for a change,” he writes. “I quit my job, sold everything that owned me and decided to live my life like an adventure and less like a chore.” After a complicated chain of events (the curious can learn more from the aforementioned hyperlink), he eventually found himself cycling across the country with his dog Bixby, who accompanied him in a dog crate Minnick attached to his vehicle. Since then, Mike and Bixby have jointly traveled to over 31 states over two years, raising eyebrows and winning hearts along the way. Thanks to the considerable media attention garnered by their wanderings, Minnick has even been able to draw increased attention to a cause very near to his heart – the importance of animals shelters as an alternative to puppy mills.
In an interview with Minnick, The Good Men Project discussed why his adventures with Bixby offered him a perfect opportunity to help needy dogs, as well as what advice he would give other young men seeking their way in the world. Here is what he had to say:
On animal shelters:
“Bixby is a rescue dog from a shelter in Austin, TX. I adopted her shortly after a breakup when I felt like I wanted a best friend. She walked over, put her chin on my knee, and I knew that I was going to feed this animal. I started bringing her with me everywhere and we quickly became almost inseparable… She doesn’t care if I’m rich or poor, if we sleep in a king-sized bed or down some path off the side of the road. She just wants to be with me. It’s the most unconditional bond one can have. (I don’t have kids)…
At some point, someone decided that they couldn’t care for this pup and dumped her off at a shelter. A kill shelter at that. There are literally millions of dogs just like her, that get put down every year in this country, and it’s a 100 percent human made problem. It’s irresponsible – humans not spaying and neutering, then not taking responsibility for the offspring they helped bring into this world… I have nothing against a labrador or a pit bull, but rescue one. There are rescues for most any breed. I do not understand how anyone would pay $1200 for a dog, when there are so many dogs that could be saved for $1200…”
On Bixby’s role:
“Bixby is a wonderful ambassador for shelter dogs. People ask me all the time ‘What is she?’ I say a dog. ‘What kind?’ She’s a shelter dog. They come in all shapes and sizes, and every single one of them just wants to bond with a human. If they’re allowed, they will take their humans on an amazing adventure in the time they have together.”
Bixby is a wonderful ambassador for shelter dogs. People ask me all the time ‘What is she?’ I say a dog. ‘What kind?’ She’s a shelter dog.
On the deeper social message he has learned from his experience:
“What I realize is that what’s expected of you, from the time you’re in school to the time you enter the workforce, is that you have some obligation to follow a set path: Go to high school, then immediately college without ever really finding your passion, get a degree, buy a car, buy a house have a family, now your in debt and you realize that you never really took the opportunity to explore your place in the world. Suddenly, life is a chore…”
What he has learned about society from his journeys:
“We largely live in a fear based society if you go by the news. Everything is scary and dangerous. Strangers might hurt you. The news is mostly so horrible and a lot of people buy into it. Roll up your windows and lock your doors. Put up a privacy fence, stay out of my dirt. What is refreshing for me, is that as I got out on the road, and people can tell I’m on adventure, especially with an adorable rescue dog on the back of my bike and our website written in huge letters down the side, that barrier gets broken down.”
On his message for other men:
“I say it all the time now and it sounds so cliche. If you don’t chase after your dreams, they will never come true. If you never chase what you’re passionate about and what you love, then how will you ever be truly happy?”