Not Your Usual Suspect...Winky Rides
It’s a sunny Sunday afternoon in Fort McMurray, and as you wait at the stop light you look to the left and see a motorcycle glide to a stop beside you. Nothing seems unusual until you notice this particular motorcycle has a trailer attached – and in the trailer is a large German Shepherd wearing goggles. You’ve just met Winky.
Winky, a nine-year-old canine who can usually be seen grinning away as he rides in the trailer towed by the motorcycle piloted by his human companion Sandy, has been riding since he was a pup. Sandy, an avid motorcyclist, started getting Winky used to the trailer when he was just a pup, and now Winky has become a fixture of the motorcycle scene in Fort McMurray and beyond.
In fact, in 2015 Winky officially reached the 80,000 km milestone, having travelled across Canada and the United States making new friends and fans along the way. The “Winky Rides” Facebook page has become a gathering spot for over 3,000 of his fans, and Winky even boasts his own website.
Winky’s owner – or perhaps more accurately his best friend – Sandy MacDonald has helped Winky to turn his notoriety into a fundraising initiative for the Fort McMurray SPCA, raising over $5,000 in donations and sales of Winky-related merchandise such as T-shirts.
At almost 100 pounds, Winky has grown from the playful puppy he once was into the mature canine he is today, but the sight and sound of a motorcycle always gets his attention and he is always, according to Sandy, “ready to ride”.
Winky has gone from local fame to garnering international attention thanks to his trips to locations in Nevada, Arizona and more. The goggle-wearing, motorcycle-loving dog becomes the key attraction at every stop, and Sandy and Winky have developed friendships that stretch across the borders of nationality. There are even those who are known as “Winky’s Riders”, other motorcycle enthusiasts who join Sandy and Winky on the road and share their adventures.
One only has to observe Winky once at a red light to recognize the effect he has on other motorists and passengers. The smiles, the pointing and the laughter are clear signs that Winky has connected with his audience. As Sandy says: “Winky just makes people smile. He makes people happy,” and indeed he does, as how can anyone feel gloomy when seeing a motorcycling dog wearing goggles?
Sandy recognized early on that Winky’s passion for riding could be turned into something more, and so the concept of using Winky’s adventures to raise funds for the local SPCA was conceived. There is talk of a children’s book about Winky, and on occasion even the idea of a movie has been floated as everyone loves a story about a good man and an equally good dog.
“We will keep riding until he’s tired of it,” says Sandy, affectionately ruffling the fur on top of Winky’s head. Winky looks at this author and smiles, as if in agreement. “And so far he gets excited every time the bike comes out, so we will just keep riding.”
And so they will continue to log even more kilometres, make more friends and raise even more money for their cause, a man and a dog who are most definitely not your usual suspects but who are perhaps two of the most unique and special individuals – human or canine – you will ever meet.