National Geographic News
Photo of Theron Humphrey's dog, Maddie, in a red truck.

Maddie the coonhound looks ready to hit the road inside Humphrey's truck in Seattle, Washington. (The deer is a "fun, temporary passenger for the photo," according to Humphrey.)

Photograph by Theron Humphrey

Margaret Zackowitz

National Geographic

Published February 27, 2014

Today's Google Doodle celebrates the 112th birthday of American writer John Steinbeck with quotes from some of his most famous works, including The Grapes of WrathCannery Row, and Of Mice and Men.

But Steinbeck, who died in 1968, wrote more than just novels. Travels With Charley, the story of his 40-state road trip with a standard poodle as his companion, still resonates with dog lovers everywhere. One is Theron Humphrey, a photographer based in Atlanta, Georgia.

Travels with Charley, Steinbeck
Steinbeck's book Travels With Charley took readers across 40 states with his standard poodle.

Doodle Courtesy Google

In 2011 Humphrey began a project to visit every state in America. He wanted to photograph and tell the stories of people he met along the road. Inspired by Steinbeck's adventure with Charley the poodle, he adopted a coonhound from a local shelter to accompany him and then set off. (Take National Geographic's dog quiz.)

Maddie proved to be a perfect traveler. Since then the pair has completed another project featuring animal-rescue success stories from every state, and a book, Maddie on Things.

"A lot of folks ask me, How do you travel so much with your dog? Isn't it hard?" says Humphrey.

"I figure after three years on the road, I wouldn't trade it for anything. Maybe it's a bit like when you have your first child: You can't imagine giving up the life you knew and all the freedom you felt you had, but once you hold that baby, you wouldn't trade it for anything. That's how I feel about Maddie."

You can follow the pair’s daily adventures on Instagram @thiswildidea.

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