After a year of difficult logistics news, here is something you will enjoy…
With the long hours and days away from home, it’s no surprise that truckers can get lonely on long hauls. However, there is an increasing trend among truckers, especially over-the-road (OTR) truckers, of bringing pets along for the ride.
In fact, about 40% of truckers take their pets on the road with them. Not only do pets offer companionship, but research also shows that pets help truckers’ physical and mental well-being.
The tales, and tails, go on and on…
Most rig pets are dogs; second most popular are cats. But the list doesn’t stop there… Other truckers’ pets are featured in many trucker publications such as Truckers News and Overdrive Magazine, not to mention websites such as alltrucking.com and freightrover.com.
Stephanie Klang, who recently retired after decades of driving for CFI Trucking, remembers enjoying a lot of benefits from having her cats Fred and Noodles riding with her in the rig. Fred and Noodles were company. Buddies. Cuddles. Entertainment. Like children, they needed, and offered, love and attention. Another thing that ride-along pets do, is “they make us truckers more human to the public,” Stephanie said.
Bojan Sinanovic, who drives for a company in Grand Rapids, Michigan, took the family dog, Milo, on the road with him when his wife, Iris, was visiting family overseas. “We spent a whole month in the truck together,” Bojan says of his adventure with Milo in his 2000 Volvo truck. Having the dog in the truck was fun, Bojan says. “In some ways, it’s better than having another person with you. Dogs are great companions. They don’t take up too much of your space, don’t bother you with boring conversations, and they adjust fairly quickly.”
Another trucker, Joe Mansheim of Minnesota, drives with his pet duck, Frank. Then there’s owner-operator Larry Leckrone, who has ridden some 20 years with his potty-trained parrot, Mugsy, who is 21 and has a 300-word vocabulary. Truckers have been known to ride with snakes, iguanas, fish, and ferrets.
Hawkeye’s drivers are also making the most of their long hauls by bringing their furry friends along for the ride. Here’s Hawkeye driver, Matt Ochoa with his trucking companion, Smalls…
Another Hawkeye driver Linda Hayenga loves traveling with her dogs Obi And Tai. Her pup Dasher would also ride along before he crossed the rainbow highway in an 18-wheeler to heaven…
Pets are shown to improve truckers’ health…
Clinical psychologist, Dr. Sylvia Gearing, an expert on pet/human bonds, was quoted in a recent publication about studies that show “levels of the ‘feel-good’ brain hormone oxytocin spiked when people just petted a dog,” and that pets “served as a sort of multiplier for their happiness. Pets can help negate bad moods and loneliness.”
Studies done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health indicate that truckers who ride with pets have decreased blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels, all of which can reduce heart attack risk.
Dogs in particular give truckers a reason to exercise. While many people may neglect their health if left to their own devices, most pet owners will get up and moving to keep their beloved pets healthy and happy.
Considering bringing a pet with you on the road?
If you’re considering bringing an animal companion on your hauls, you may want to do some planning ahead. For instance, what breeds are best for life on the road? How do you deck out your truck for these road co-warriors?
Here are some recommendations for adding that pet to your rig:
🐾 Check trucking companies’ pet policies. First, find out if the company you drive for allows pets on board. Many do not. Those that do often have some kind of pet policy, which is worth checking out before you commit to a pet.
🐾 Research the best dog breeds for truck travel. Truckers have all kinds of dogs, including very large breeds. But truckers report that some breeds adjust better to the overall confinement of life on the road.
How can you pet-proof your truck?
🐾 Block access to the cab’s driver area, especially the pedals. This keeps Fido from causing an accident by romping onto your brakes.
🐾 Find safe, tightly sealed storage for trash, food, medicine, and other items you don’t want Fido to eat.
🐾 Have a designated pet space that allows your pet some stretch-out room between stops.
🐾 Always have lots of fresh water available. Keep it out at all times—in a spill-proof bowl, so your pet can drink anytime.
What are some big-rig must-haves for your pet?
Along with the above pet-proofing accommodations, here are some other suggested steps published online that can ensure your pet’s comfort and safety:
🐾 Sudden stops could send your pet into the air—not to mention the windshield—at top speed. You can use a harness that attaches to a seat belt, or a closed-off kennel to guard against this.
🐾 Make sure your pet has a soft, warm place to sleep. Covering its cage with a blanket helps keep the pet warm. Be sure to leave room at the bottom for airflow.
🐾 Cats can get restless on long hauls. It helps to have a scratching board and a few cat toys to keep them occupied.
🐾 Make sure to keep a large water jug with a dispenser to be sure you and your pet don’t run out.
🐾 Consider seat covers.
🐾 Always keep waste bags in your truck—and use them. It’s your responsibility to clean up after your animals.
🐾 Consider getting a dog ramp to give small, and elderly, dogs easy access in and out of the truck.
🐾 Keep extra cab filters. Pets can smell.
🐾 Carry a small, 12-volt vacuum for quick and easy clean-up.
🐾 Use a retractable leash; never let your dog run freely at truck stops or rest areas.
🐾 Carry a spare key in your pocket. Pets can hit door locks while you’re outside of the truck.
🐾 Make sure you have lots of Windex.
🐾 Make sure your dog has tags.
🐾 Be prepared to make lots of stops.
🐾 Check out dog booties. They protect dogs’ feet from the likes of hot pavement in Arizona in July, and frigid snow and ice in Minnesota in January.
🐾 Do not let your dogs out at the gas pumps. This exposes them to walking in diesel fuel and oil and other nasty elements.
It’s all paws on deck as more and more truckers are jumping on the bandwagon, road pets will become increasingly more common.
Now that’s one logistics trend we can all be happy about!