Fort McMurray man and motorcycle dogs raise $ 200,000 for charity
It’s a sight that caught the attention of many and almost caused traffic accidents: Greb the German Shepherd riding a shotgun in a motorcycle sidecar alongside owner Sandy MacDonald.
The couple are often seen strolling the streets of Fort McMurray and occasionally all the way to Las Vegas.
“I saw people almost fall into the ditch,” MacDonald said. “People are passing you, take pictures.”
But they don’t just ride for fun, the duo have raised around $ 200,000 for charity with sponsored rides, t-shirt sales and direct donations.
Sandy MacDonald, who likes to refer to herself as Greb’s public relations officer, has been fundraising for the SPCA and other charities for years.
It all started in 2006 with his dog Winky.
MacDonald trained Winky to get on a small trailer which he towed behind the motorcycle. He started to gain attention and friends suggested that he start raising money for charity.
“It all happened by accident,” MacDonald said.
MacDonald’s house is a testament to the public’s adoration for their dogs.
“They say every dog has a purpose. It’s almost like Winky is supposed to do that sort of thing,” MacDonald said.
Fan art hangs on the walls of MacDonald’s house with photos, paintings, prints, and handcrafted wood plaques.
Winky passed away in 2016, but the community hasn’t let the motorcycling dog’s legacy fade away. Over the past five years, on June 6, Winky’s birthday, the mayor of Wood Buffalo issued a proclamation announcing his Winky’s Day, and several fundraisers were held to honor the dog.
A fundraiser is a memorial hike, led by MacDonald and Greb.
Shortly after Winky’s death, MacDonald got Greb.
“He’s following in Winky’s footsteps,” MacDonald said.
MacDonald and his dogs raised $ 157,000 for the Fort McMurray SPCA as well as tens of thousands of dollars for other local charities.
Charles Brandsgard, executive director of the Fort McMurray SPCA, said MacDonald has supported the organization for years.
The most recent donation of $ 10,000 will be used to purchase two dog treadmills so they can exercise in the winter.
“I was amazed to learn that Sandy was doing this,” said Brandsgard, who has worked for the SPCA for a few months. He said the money raised has a big impact on the animals.
“Every dollar makes a huge difference,” Brandsgard said.
MacDonald named his two dogs after famous boxers: Winky Wright and Harry Greb. And most of the sponsored motorcycle rides are in Las Vegas, where MacDonald watches boxing matches, and says WInky has even met his namesake.
The two dogs have different personalities when riding alongside MacDonald. Winky was known to bend over with the bike as it spun, while Greb is known to sing along with 4 Non-Blondes’ song What’s Up.
Greb also makes the “gum-flap” brand, MacDonald said. The dog will raise its mouth and let its cheeks flutter in the wind.
“It’s his trademark… it’s on his shirt. We have it on magnets. We have it on videos,” MacDonald said.
Greb took his first motorcycle ride when he was three months old. He has been to Las Vegas twice and has driven almost 40,000 kilometers. He collects around $ 10,000 from each race.
And MacDonald equals any donation made by children.
Dogs are on shirts all over the world, from the United States to Turkey.
For those concerned about the safety of dogs, MacDonald said Greb wears goggles and is well trained to ride a bike.