Paws on the Road

Having a furry (or feathered, I suppose) friend on the long lonely road can help make the job more bearable  (pun sort of intended). While I’m not suggesting having a bear or lion or any other carnivorous creature, a more manageable pet like a dog or cat could be very rewarding for long haul drivers. The main reason for my post is not to encourage truckers to run out and get a dog, but more to think about the impact of a pet co-living in such a small space because we have seen our fair share of abandoned dogs wandering truck stops and rest stops commited to the idea that their cold, heartless owner will come back for them. Having a pet on a truck is a million percent different than having one in your home or even studio apartment.

It is completely endearing to see a pup (or cat) pop up from the seat at a fuel island, smiling a slobbery grin as their owner is fueling or the occasional small animal lounging on a dash board, soaking up the sun as the driver sits at a truck stop for a break.

But your space is their space (or maybe it is more vice versa) and it’s not a dogs fault your bed is so warm and comfy. If you’re someone who doesn’t think pets should be allowed on furniture and you’re a truck driver, I highly suggest you get yourself a stuffed animal and pretend it’s real. There isn’t a lot if space on the truck floor and to expect an animal to stay in one place all day long is absolutely ridiculous, they are going to want to be near you.

If you’re someone who likes to be out of the truck as much as possible without your pet, again, get a stuffed animal. Dogs and cats get bored or experience anxiety when they are left alone, especially when the loud roar of big rig engines are sounding outside. Boredom and anxiety can lead to chewing or clawing and you could spend a thousand dollars on dog bones or cat scratchers, but your chair or your mattress are going to be most appealing in that moment. I often wonder how many people experienced that very thing and that’s why their sad eyed four legged, faithful ’til the end best friend is now wandering around a fuel island.

The biggest point is pets need exercise. When you wake up, they need to go out, when you stop for a potty break, they need a potty break and at the end of the day,  when you stop for the night, they need to go out. No matter how big or small, animals need to run around and relieve themselves. You can get a dog on your schedule, but that has to include going outside at least 3 times a day. It’s not fair to expect them to sit still for your eleven or fourteen hour drive day and it’s absolutely unacceptable to punish them for going to the bathroom or chewing up your truck if they have been stuck inside all day.

If you think you can handle all of that then maybe you can consider brining a pet on board and it will be an amazing experience for you both. Another continual issue I’ve come across on trucker forums is pets getting out or running off and owners can’t catch them or they’ve had to leave the area (to make their ETA for a load). It is important to make sure your pet is microchipped and your information is up to date. It might also be helpful to have an ID tag on your pet letting others know they are a trucking animal and a direct phone number. 

Just remember, as with a normal home situation, it takes time for an animal to get acclimated and accustomed to our rules, but if it just isn’t going to work out, find soomeone else or a place to take the animal to so that they have the chance to have a safe and happy life. Pets love us unconditionally and deserve to be loved just the same.

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