Mike Minnick and his dog, Bixby, stopped in Santa Maria this weekend as part of their cross-country bicycle journey to raise awareness about pet adoption and support for local animal shelters.
“She absolutely loves it,” Minnick said of 5-year-old Bixby. “Ultimately, dogs want to be with their humans. It’s what they’re programmed to do.
"They’re really adaptable and as long as you give them the basic things they need and the attention and care that they want, they’re down for just about anything.”
Friday marked the second anniversary of the day Minnick quit his job and started traveling around the country with Bixby, first by truck and then by bicycle.
So far, they've covered 31 states and more than 8,000 miles. He and Bixby celebrated by checking out the Santa Maria Valley Humane Society.
Emiko Gerber, development manager at the Santa Maria Valley Humane Society, said she is impressed by Minnick’s knowledge of issues, including the importance of spaying and neutering pets to avoid overpopulation.
The Humane Society has around 50 cats and dogs waiting to be adopted, including one named Dot who has been in shelters almost her whole life.
Minnick featured Dot on his social media sites in hopes someone would come to adopt her.
“It’s really a public service,” Gerber said. “And it’s astonishing, the effort he’s put into riding across the county and adopting a cause.”
Wearing bright red socks with dogs on them and a hat with “Hug your dog” emblazoned on the front, Minnick describes his experience adopting Bixby and traveling across the country to anyone who will listen.
He said people see Bixby in the cargo box on the back of his bright orange bike and immediately come over to find out their story.
“If my dogs knew, they’d be jealous of all the smells and people and exposure and the air and wind flopping in your ears,” Gerber said. "Dogs live for that experience, and it makes them really happy."
Bixby and Minnick spend 24 hours per day together, whether that’s camping in a dog-friendly area, cruising down the highway or being taken in by dog lovers nationwide.
Minnick plans to continue out on the road for another year and eventually write a children’s book through the eyes of a rescue dog.
He hopes to eventually make it on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" to share his message with the whole country, but he enjoys any small interaction where he can share his message of adoption.
“They’re all Bixbys,” Mimmick said. “They’re all waiting for a human to come adopt them and take them on an adventure.”