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Georgie Cutright passes a sign for Ruby Falls on his trip to California. He is being pulled by dogs while sitting on a beach chair on top of a longboard.
some text Georgie Cutright poses with his dogs, Sarah and Lobos.

When he's perched on his makeshift sled, being pulled by two Siberian huskies down America's back roads, Georgie Cutright says he can identify with Forrest Gump.

In Cutright's case, the dogs — Sarah and Lobos — are doing all the running, but the trek is cross-country, just like the trip taken by the fictional character.

"I see where he's coming from," Cutright said. "Just go, man."

His sled, a beach chair sitting atop a longboard, isn't really Iditarod material, but then again, Cutright isn't really in it for the glory of competition. He's just trying to bring smiles to as many faces as he can meet between Tennessee and the West Coast.

His bizarre, 2,200-mile pilgrimage to Venice Beach, Calif., via his "urban dog sled" began in Knoxville earlier this month, but hit an immediate roadblock when police officers stopped him to say he needed insurance for his ride.

"Nothing great has ever been done in this world without opposition," Cutright said.

He said he shopped around for agents who would insure his sled as they would a horse-drawn carriage, but was denied time and again until he found an insurance company in Florida that would cover him.

With all the necessary paperwork filed away, he set off and, as of Saturday had made it to Summerville, Ga., meeting plenty of strangers along the way and relying on their hospitality to get him a little further down the road.

"I haven't wanted for one thing. People have been so kind and generous," he said.

He said he didn't have a singular, driving reason for taking this trip, but he was pushed out the door by his desire to bring a little more joy into the world through his absurd endeavor.

"I want to prove that there are more good people out there than bad people," he said. "I'm a lover. I want to spread joy, peace and love. That's what this is all about."

Several local media outlets along his route have written stories, and the Knoxville News Sentinel's account was even picked up by the Daily Mail in England.

The pups providing the horsepower are both rescue dogs, and Cutright wrote on a GoFundMe page that he is hoping to "raise awareness for rescue dogs across the country."

"We want folks to know that just because a dog has had a hard life there is hope and with a little love and alot [sic] of patience any dog can turn out loving and healthy and happy!" he wrote on the page.

As of Saturday night, he had raised $940 of his $20,000 goal, and commentators had begun sharing their thoughts about the trip online.

"I'm glad you're doing this Georgie, I know that you'll have the health of the dogs in mind, and that you three will have a fantastic, and fun adventure," wrote Zach Gates. "More people should be inspired to do big things with their life."

"From one husky owner to another, best of luck and can't wait to see your updates!" wrote Ashley Francis, who donated $50 to the cause. "The furkids are going to love the feeling of being put to work and this is what they were born to do!"

But not everyone is getting a kick out of Cutright's trip. He said petitions have been written to stop him and he's received death threats from people concerned about the dogs' health.

"You're an [expletive] for doing this to those dogs," wrote Jay Billington on GoFundMe.

However, Cutright said he's being extremely careful with the dogs, giving them booties to protect their paws on the pavement and letting them rest whenever they don't feel like going on. With more than 2,000 miles left to go, he said all three of them are relishing the trip so far and looking forward to what the coming months are going to bring.

"I've always dreamed of doing something like this, and I'm just happy to do it," he said. "I'll die in the pursuit of my happiness."

Contact staff writer Emmett Gienapp at egienapp@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6731. Follow him on Twitter @emmettgienapp.

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