- Associated Press - Friday, October 24, 2014

RENO, Nev. (AP) - He’s an internet sensation, featured on YouTube and USAToday.com.

He brings smiles wherever he goes and has been known to spark spontaneous, paparazzi-like photo ops.

Like a handful of celebrities, he goes by one name - Moki.

Unlike other celebrities (at least most of them), he’ll work for belly rubs, treats and, especially, motorcycle rides.

Like any good motorcycle rider, you might just say he’s bad to the (Milk) bone.

Moki is a 5-year-old golden doodle, a cross between a golden retriever and a standard poodle, owned by Reno’s Brad and Marti Bakalar and he has been getting quite a lot of attention of late after a video of him riding down I-580 on the passenger seat of Brad’s Harley-Davidson motorcycle made it onto Facebook. It ended up on RGJ.com, USAToday.com, and YouTube.

“It kind of went viral these past few months,” Brad Bakelar said. “He’s probably one of the most photographed dogs in America, maybe in the world.”

Not bad for a pooch that was abandoned and starving when he and the Bakelars found each other in Page, Ariz.

“About five years ago, I was helping some friends in a boat shop,” said Brad, a mechanic by trade. “It’s a small town and they had a little animal rescue that they ran out of the shop. Some folks called and said there was a little dog wandering this apartment complex for two weeks and he was starving to death. The minute he got into the shop, he ran in, leaned against my leg and kind of adopted me. I called my wife and said, ‘You’d better set another place for dinner because we’ve got a new family member.’”

At the time, Moki weighed about 16 pounds, his ribs showing through his matted, dirty hair. A trip to the vet identified him as a golden doodle, about 5 to 6 months old. Now full grown, he’s closer to 70 pounds.

“I’d never even heard of a golden doodle before,” Brad Bakelar said.

He soon began taking the dog to the boat shop with him and Moki’s affinity for riding showed itself almost immediately.

“I would move boats around with the forklift and wherever I would go, he would go,” Brad said. “He just jumped on and started riding around with me. That segued into this little ATV 4-wheeler we had at the shop. He jumped on there with me.”

Then as the weather warmed, Bakelar pulled his Harley out.

“He got excited and I said, ‘Get on or get run over,’” He said with a laugh. “He ran up my knee into the back seat and has pretty much been there ever since. My wife had to get her own motorcycle. He’s been my riding buddy for five years. I’d say we’ve probably logged about 40,000 miles together. He’s been to the Grand Canyon, to Sturgis, South Dakota, Salt Lake, Idaho.”

Like his owner, Moki wears eye protection while they ride and most of their trips are 150 miles or less at a time.

“After about 150 miles, he wants to take a nap,” Bakelar said.

In Sturgis, home to one of the nation’s largest motorcycle rallies, Moki was a fan favorite, with scores of people wanting to take his photo. On more than one occasion, the most recent being Pinocchio’s Ride for the Tatas breast cancer fundraiser in Virginia City, Bakelar and Moki have sat on the motorcycle while a busload of Japanese tourists took photos.

A coffee can on the handlebars of the motorcycle collected $128 for Moms on the Run, the local breast cancer support group.

The latest video on Facebook, RGJ.com and USAToday.com also caught the attention of the Northern Nevada chapter of the SPCA and they contacted the Bakelars about having Moki make appearances at their events.

In addition to the motorcycle, Moki also enjoys riding on the back of a jet ski, sitting comfortably behind his owner.

Brad Bakelar said it’s been fun and a labor of love.

“It’s something that he and I do because we like doing it,” he said. “It’s not something I’m trying to make money off of. I’m not going to turn him into Lassie. I don’t want it to become something that I dread doing. It’s fun that people notice and enjoy him.”

___

Information from: Reno Gazette-Journal, http://www.rgj.com

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