Every relationship has that lightbulb moment when you can clearly see the trust and love that’s developed between the two of you. For Michael Fiala, that realization happened on a sunny beach in Florida with his beloved Siberian husky puppy, Sox, about seven years ago.
Michael was about to relocate to Hawaii, leaving everyone and everything behind to pursue his next chapter, and his father surprised him with a furry companion to accompany him on the trip. On the day before he moved, Michael went to the beach with Sox and swam out into the water for a quick dip. Sox decided to follow him, attempting to swim out through the rough surf. He got tossed around and beat up a bit by the waves, but he simply stood up, shook it off, and set back out until he made it to Michael. In that moment, Michael knew he’d found the best kind of partner -- one who is up for anything, confident and brave, and just happy to be together.
Before he got Sox, Michael had sold his car to get a motorcycle for his new island life, and quickly realized he’d need to figure out how to get around on the bike with Sox. Luckily, Michael had studied animal behavior in college and worked as a dog trainer and groomer for years, so having seen Sox’s smarts and athleticism and having established such a strong connection, he knew he’d be able to train the pup to ride.
Michael started small, getting Sox used to noises and vibrations of the bike, then he taught him how to sit on the seat and hold on, and slowly he started riding with him on the back like a human passenger. After three months of consistent training and practice, Michael and Sox hit the road and never looked back—just last month, they crossed 60,000 miles.
The duo spent several years on the big island of Hawaii together, riding frequently, but Michael’s career wasn’t fulfilling him, and he was ready to find a new path. About a year and a half ago, he quit his job to become a professional skydiver, and now the two cruise all over the United States together, chasing adventure and motorcycle weather.
Now that they are back on the mainland, Michael and Sox have started to get more attention, both from people who see them on the road and, recently, from media outlets. While it might look like quite a spectacle to see a dog riding on the back of a motorcycle, Michael contends that Sox is just as safe on his bike as any other passenger. He has safety gear like a helmet and Rex Specs to protect his head and eyes, and now at eight years old, he’s highly experienced in all types of conditions and terrain.
When the two are cruising under 30mph, Sox is relaxed and sits back to take in the scenery and watch the world go by. When Michael speeds up, and Sox feels the pull of the momentum on the bike, he grips harder onto Michael’s shoulders to ensure a firm grip. And when Michael tells him to “hold on” before a bump or rough stretch of road, Sox will also place his head on Michael’s shoulder, leaning most of his weight there to stabilize himself. The pair has yet to have an accident, though Michael says his biggest concern is other drivers taking out their phones to photograph them while driving.
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Despite their impressive mileage over the years, Michael insists that this journey is not about the numbers. What started out as an adventure for the two of them has now become a daily experience of sharing this joy with all those they encounter along the way, and it’s that affirmation and the bonding time with Sox that pushes him to continue on, camping, hiking, and skydiving along the way. The plan is to start checking-off bucket list items, including visiting every National Park and National Forest together and then moving on to seeing every Major League Baseball stadium.
So if you’re driving near any of America’s beautiful locales, keep your eyes peeled for Sox the Bike Dog and Michael Fiala. You might just get to see them literally ride off into the sunset together.