There was clearly a story behind such an extraordinary sight — but for a long time, Michael Fiala, the motorcyclist and dog dad of Sox, was more interested in living his story rather than posting about it.
“I purposely avoided social media for a long time for fear that people would think I’m doing it for social media,” Fiala told The Dodo.
Fiala’s relationship with Sox started eight years ago when Fiala’s dad decided to surprise him.
“I showed up at my dad’s house, heard a little noise in the back room, and I thought, ‘What in the world is that?'” Fiala went into the room and there was Sox. “I fell in love.”
Fiala didn’t necessarily plan, though, for Sox to become an adventure dog. It all started because of a practical necessity.
When Fiala needed to move to Hawaii, he made the decision to sell his car, keeping only the motorcycle he’d gotten just before graduating college.
But having Sox as his constant companion, but without a car, would require some adjustments.
Luckily, Fiala had a lot of experience with animals. “My degree is animal behavior and zoology, so studying animals is my specialty, and I worked as dog groomer and a dog trainer,” Fiala said. “I was like, ‘How can we get this to work?'”
It took a long time — and was a much longer process than Fiala anticipated — to get Sox comfortable with the bike.
“It started with me picking him up and setting him on the motorcycle,” Fiala said. “Then when he got comfortable with that, I would have him jump up on the bike … And then a little bit more and a little bit more. Eventually, I put it in neutral and just rolled at just 1 mile per hour.”
Then Fiala turned the motorcycle on. “Then it was back to the drawing board,” Fiala laughed. “He had to get used to the motor and vibration.”
Sox and Fiala worked with each other, and after a lot of training, Sox was able to come along on Fiala’s many adventures around Hawaii. They saw amazing scenery and even visited volcanoes together.
“We drove around in Hawaii for six years,” Fiala said. “I was doing all these hikes and adventures and I brought my dog for all those experiences.”
Fiala has the personal goal to visit all 50 states, all national parks and all major league baseball stadiums across the country — all with his dog. For the last six months, that’s what he and Sox have been working on.
“For me this is the most incredible journey that I’ve ever been on,” Fiala said.
In March of last year, Fiala started documenting just some of his adventures with Sox on Instagram.
Some people are deeply inspired by what they see — others are more skeptical.
”Some people say, ‘You should have your dog taken away from you.’ I appreciate that people have concern for my dog,” Fiala said, “but they don’t understand the relationship, they don’t know the story.”
As of now, Fiala and Sox have nearly hit 60,000 miles on the motorcycle — together.
“Of course there will always be people who judge you no matter what you do in life,” Fiala said, and he and Sox are going to just keep on riding toward their goal. “It wasn’t just a one-off thing to get attention, this was a plan to build a really amazing relationship with my dog.”
Fiala said that he has even longer-term goals in the future. Once he and Sox meet all their goals, Fiala would love to go to all seven continents with Sox. They’ve already been to two together — North America and South America; just five more to go.
In the nearer future, though, is Joshua Tree National Park.