Anchorage man and his dog make lap around the planet, walking over 24,901 miles in the past 8 years

Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 8:21 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Mike Mitchell and his Shih Tzu Chance are a rare breed. The pair have walked thousands of miles over the past eight years, and are a staple in their South Anchorage neighborhood.

“I love to walk and Chance loves to walk,” Mitchell said. “So we walk together. We just walk every single day.”

Those steps have added up — they’ve walked the circumference of the planet, covering over 24,901 miles. It’s a journey Mitchell began keeping track of in 2013 using an Apple Watch and said they’ve averaged about 3,000 miles a year with multiple walks a day year-round.

“Somehow we managed to walk the distance around the planet,” Mitchell said. “I think it’s remarkable my little dog can walk around the planet.”

The special connection between Mitchell and his dog began on his 60th birthday when he found a litter of Shih Tzu puppies on Craigslist in Wasilla, and days later he came home with Chance.

“He (Chance) was most the beautiful one and I was the first person there,” Mitchell said. “I said, ‘I’ll take him.’ Everything went so easily it was like something was ordered up by an unseen force.”

Prior to Chance, Mitchell contracted Hepatitis C during surgery in 1976. He battled the virus for years and took a clinical trial to treat it. The treatment was similar to chemotherapy and cleared the virus in 2018.

“I carried (Hepatitis C) for a long time, and most people didn’t make it,” Mitchell said. “But I was lucky.”

Along with battling Hepatitis C, he became overweight and out of shape. The now 68-year-old credits Chance for saving his life in 2013.

“I very quickly came to the conclusion I have to take another chance at this,” Mitchell said. “It just was the perfect name for this little dog. ‘He’s the second chance.’”

The two haven’t wasted their time together, walking all over Anchorage and getting to know everyone on their path. Many neighbors commented on Mitchell’s pocket full of treats that have dogs gravitating toward him from every direction.

Mitchell said doctors and veterinarians have encouraged the pair to keep doing what they’re doing. As if they needed any extra motivation, the duo plans to continue walking.

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