Owner operator Wendy Trudeau loves her mutt, Missy, so much, she couldn’t help but post photos of Missy on Facebook. A lot of them. She posted them so often, in fact, that Trudeau’s brother eventually came up with a silly new nickname for his sister: “the crazy dog lady.”
She’d show him. As a joke, Trudeau decided to start a Facebook group for people with CDL trucking jobs, a place where they could post photos of their pets. She called the group “Trucking Fur Babies” and approached it with a laugh.
One year later, Trucking Fur Babies has 978 members, and the group’s robust following is nothing to scoff at.
“It makes me feel really good,” says Trudeau, an owner operator leased to Mercer Transportation in Louisville, Ky. “It’s like, wow, I started something kind of half heartedly and now it’s full of wonderful people. It’s a happy group. I call it my happy place.”
In Trucking Fur Babies, people with CDL trucking jobs post photos of their pets, bond over their common interest and bring levity to one another’s days.
Drivers in the group say taking their pets on the road with them has enhanced their enjoyment of work, given them companionship and created unexpected health benefits.
“He just brightens our life,” says Dee Shunk of her dog Pa-Lo (pronounced Paolo), a cattle dog mix she and her husband, Kevin, found abandoned outside a bar four years ago. “He’s our baby. He surprises us every day. He goes crazy for peppermints.”
“And he absolutely loves the bath,” adds Kevin Shunk, who has had an owner operator trucking job for several years. “Oh God, I just said ‘bath’ and there he goes. Pa-Lo’s sitting in the bathtub right now.”
Such antics are recounted in Trucking Fur Babies day after day.
Sandra Card loves being a part of the group, too. She rides along with her husband, Luigi Dimeo. Dimeo has an owner operator trucking job that can take the couple OTR for months at a time. Life on the road can make for a lot of togetherness, so the couple’s dog, Toby, is a vital peacemaker for the pair when tensions rise.
“Toby’s role is to keep us from killing each other,” Card jokes. “Me and my husband sitting next to each other 24/7? We get irritable. Toby’s a mediator. I don’t need a therapist, I got my dog.”
While Card says all of this with a laugh, she makes a serious point. Toby, a shih tzu, lowers the couple’s stress levels and helps them cope during long stretches on the road. “When we’re stuck in traffic, having Toby helps immensely,” Card says.
Walking the Walk
Those with CDL driving jobs say having their dogs with them on the road has another big benefit—more exercise. Trudeau goes walking twice a day with Missy, once in the morning and again in the evening.
“We go off the beaten path,” says Trudeau. “We’re country kids. Missy is good for two miles at a time.”
And for Card, who has diabetes, making time for such walks is all the more important.
“I know it’s healthier for you to have an animal, I’ve read the studies on that,” Trudeau says. “The little furball just knows if you’ve had a bad day. Then you go for a walk and life is good.”
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