In 2013, Mike Mitchell of Anchorage, Alaska, was a very different man. At 230 pounds, he was overweight and battling multiple health problems after contracting Hepatitis C during surgery years before. He was sick, tired, and barely getting by.
Today, Mitchell hardly resembles the person he was back then, and he says he owes it all to a little dog named Chance. Together, the pair have walked more than 24,900 miles around their community—the equivalent of the Earth’s circumference!
It all began on Mitchell’s 60th birthday. While browsing Craigslist, he came across a litter of Shih-Tzu puppies and fell in love with one in particular. The connection he felt to that little pup inspired him to turn his life around. Mitchell named the tiny pooch Chance in honor of his own “second chance.”
“I very quickly came to the conclusion I gotta take another chance at this, and it was just the perfect name for this little dog. He’s a second chance,” Mitchell told WFMZ News.
Like all puppies, Chance needed lots of physical exercise and mental stimulation. So, the pair began walking every day, rain or shine. Mitchell tracked their mileage from the early days of 2013 and found that they were walking about 3,000 miles a year on average. That means that in just eight years, he and Chance have essentially strolled clear across the planet!
Mitchell explained to WFMZ that they typically wake up in the morning and head off on a double-digit walk of 10 – 12 miles. Next, they return home for breakfast and a power nap before hitting the pavement once again.
Now 68-years-old, Mitchell is slimmer, healthier, and much happier, all thanks to Chance.
“Something miraculous happened with my connection with a little dog. I give him a lot of credit of being a great teacher and saving my bacon in some ways,” he said.
In addition to giving Mitchell a reason to get out and walk, Chance has also helped him become more social. The pair are well known in their community, and Mitchell always packs extra treats to share with the other dogs they encounter.
“We’re two peas in a pod,” he joked. “Except he doesn’t clean the house. I do that.”
Mitchell and Chance’s relationship is a beautiful example of how a dog’s love can transform a life.
Want to get more active with your dog? Try one of these fun, interactive canine sports. Not only do they provide exercise for both you and your pup, but they are also great for strengthening the bond you share.