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Mike & Abbie

A Mutual Rescue Film, 2018

The rugged coast of northern California helps a despondent man and a shy shelter dog discover pure joy together through surfing.

“I would never have known my full potential if I hadn’t helped a shelter dog find hers first.”
—Michael Uy

About the Film

Mike’s world collapsed around him when he unexpectedly lost his job, relationship, and home. Despondent, he started driving around randomly. One day he happened to end up at an animal shelter. There he formed an instant bond with Abbie, a kelpie pup traumatized from having been abandoned on a busy highway. From that moment, Mike and Abbie started a remarkable journey of recovery together that centered on the beach.

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Read the Q&A

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Q&A with the co-star of “Mike & Abbie,” Michael Uy

Q: Why did you submit your story to Mutual Rescue and what are your hopes for the film?

Mike: I hope our story changes the global mentality about living with a dog from ownership to a relationship. I want people to think about how to help their dog discover and achieve her potential. It can be life changing for both human and dog. We want to inspire the whole pet industry to go beyond the “dog ownership” and obedience training.

Q: You are an accomplished photographer and videographer. Tell us about the experience on the other side of the camera when Mutual Rescue filmed you and Abbie.

Mike: As a videographer, I was surprised by how emotionally draining it was to convey one’s story to the camera. Beyond just being self-consciousness, there was this pressure to get it “right” because the video would preserve whatever I did forever. While Abbie and I are no strangers to TV interviews and media at events, it still took me a moment to gather and organize my thoughts. In a different way, there was also a little bit of relief that I didn’t have to worry about technical details for a change and there were people worrying about sound, lighting, and direction — all I had to do was tell my story.

Q: When your paths first crossed, both you and Abbie were in rough shape. How did you come to trust each other, and how long did that take?

Mike: At first, we were both in a lot of shock from having lost control over our respective worlds. I think that, because of this preoccupation, we had no expectations of each other. We were in a “let’s just see what happens” mindset. With that, I used to bring her to this secluded beach in Santa Cruz to just hang out, off leash. After several weeks of spending time this way, we gradually grew to trust each other. I just remember one day realizing that she had shifted her focus to me instead of everything around her. After that, it took months to get to the point where we could do sports together, and it started slowly with running together. For us, though, it’s an ongoing journey, like any relationship. Over the years, we’ve learned to trust each other in different ways and environments, and that continues to lead to new adventures and accomplishments. It’s the ongoing, growing trust that has been the most rewarding for both of us.

Q: Tell us about Abbie’s accomplishments, awards and recognition.

Mike: Abbie is the most-awarded and longest-competing surfdog, placing in the top three in nearly every one of dozens of competitions since 2008. She also holds two Guinness World Records for dog surfing: longest wave surfed by a dog in open water (60m and 100m). And she was the first dog inducted into the International Surfing Walk of Fame in Huntington Beach, Surf City, USA. She has appeared in a feature film by 20th Century Fox, numerous TV shows including Animal Planet’s Dogs 101, several commercials for Sony, Microsoft, Yahoo, VRBO, and countless books and news spots on air and online, reaching fans as far as Europe and Asia. She has a Junior Herding Dog title.

Q: Besides surfing, have you and Abbie explored other sports together?

Mike: The trust that Abbie and I have developed has enabled us to try a wide variety of sports and activities together—including trail running, rollerblading, mountain biking, paragliding, paddle boarding, snow sledding, tree climbing, CrossFit, rappelling, sailing, and competitive sheepherding.

Q: What are your plans for the future?

Mike: We plan on staying active. Surfing and trail running make up most of our days. I make it a point to try a new location each year. I’d love to surf in Europe, Japan or Australia. When we went to Maui, the water and waves were so different, it was a treat for Abbie just to explore the beach before we even went into the water.

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