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The motorcycle-riding German Shepherds bring joy all throughout Wisconsin

Posted at 10:00 AM, Nov 17, 2023

If you've attended a Milwaukee area event in the last few decades, you've most likely noticed a man on a motorcycle with a large dog.

It's certainly hard to miss. An over 70-pound German Shepherd riding on the front of a Harley-Davidson isn't something you see every day. And we're not just talking about one dog, we're talking about three.

For Jim Tremell, the rider of the Harley, riding with his dogs is normal. He's been a motorcycle driver for 40 years, and he's been riding with his dogs for 30 of those years.

Jim Tremell
Jim Tremell said its common for people to want to take pictures of him and his dog.

It all started with his one-year-old dog, Lady.

He decided to have her join him on his bike, and it wasn't something she immediately took to. It took her a while to get comfortable, but when she did, the two cruised all over the Milwaukee area.

"A lot of people remember Lady. We used to do halftime shows with the Packers, lots of parades," Jim said. "We usually watched the first half on the field."

After Lady passed away, Jim became the dad of another dog named Molly.

"She came to the states at 8 weeks old. I got her at about 9 weeks old. I got her as a birthday gift to myself. I got her on the 4th of July, my birthday is on the 3rd. We weren't at home more than 10 minutes, and I got her on a bike."

The rest is history, literally.

For twelve years, Molly and Jim sat alongside each other while cruising through the streets of Milwaukee. Jim said he only drives about 35 to 40 miles per hour with his dogs and doesn't drive his bike on the highway because it can be a distraction for other drivers.

"Over the years, Molly just started becoming more and more popular. Molly and I would visit the hospitals and nursing homes. We loved seeing the smiles on people's faces. Every time we came to visit, I would give them a picture of Molly, and they would still have it hanging on their wall inside the nursing home."

Jim Tremell
Jim Tremell poses for a Brewers-themed photo with his dog Molly.

If you won't take Jim's word for how popular Molly was, just go to her Facebook page called "Molly The Motorcycle Dog." The page has over 6,500 followers with fans posting photos and videos of Molly out in the community.

"It does bring a little bit of joy. I can still ride around and meet people and make people smile," said Jim.

Jim noticed Molly was beginning to slow down, and she wasn't the active dog he knew before. He stopped riding with her on their motorcycle before she passed away.

Her passing was tough for Jim. He hasn't gotten another dog but has since found so much joy and happiness, now riding with his two-year-old neighbor's dog, Mila.

"He has worked with her and has just really done an extraordinary job with her," Mila's owner, Marcia Dellis said. "Before, she was jumping on counters and just had a lot of separation anxiety."

Marcia knew when Jim mentioned wanting to get Mila on his Harley, the bike would be perfect for her, but they didn't know how she would react to it.

"My husband and I were sort of like; I don't know if this is going to happen. This might take a while but apparently, she jumped up and she was a rider," Marcia said as she smiled.

"She's very smart," Jim said. "Already speaks with an accent," he joked.

"Mila... can I have a kiss?," He asked. "Come here, can I have a kiss? Yeah, thank you," Jim said as Mila licked his face.

Marcia describes Jim as fun, loving and happy. She said him and Mila are perfect for each other.

After losing his two dogs, Jim still hasn't forgotten his mission. He continues to visit the places he would go to with his dogs Lady and Molly. Recently, a photographer was with Jim as he visited a nursing home in West Allis. Many residents mentioned remembering his dog Molly and were thrilled he was still riding. They were also impressed with Mila's behavior.

The residents' reactions to Mila, is a familiar reaction for Jim. Every time Jim takes Mila out to events, people stop him and snap pictures.

Photographer Julie Woodall is one of those people. In fact, she won an award for a photo she took of the two of them at the Wisconsin State Fair.

"I didn't know him but when we talked, he said, 'I think you took a picture of me and entered it in the fair," Julie said. "Well, there's only one picture that it could've been and the two of us hit it off and we spoke on the phone for about an hour."

This is why Jim does what he does. He loves seeing people happy.

"It's not about me. I'm just a personal chauffeur," Jim laughed. "Making people feel good-- it's a feeling inside it's kind of hard to describe."

Mila and Jim's next adventure is already planned. Mila will begin bell ringing for the holidays for the Salvation Army for the second consecutive year.