• Liz Weiner

The Dogs Behind the Wheel: 10 dogs driving across America - In their own words and photos

Truckers are amazing dog owners — what could be better than 24/7 companionship for a dog??? Every single thing in your house has touched a truck at some point. Dogs: your food, leash, bowls, clothes (sorry), bed, toys — seriously, everything! It is estimated that 40% of truckers drive with a pet. Here are just a few of the hero dogs that drive America!

Hiya! My name is Neo. My mom found me on Craigslist in Louisiana. I started trucking at 12-weeks, and I’ve been on the road for 5 months now. It’s amazing! I love to explore all of the places mom takes me. I have soooo many toys! Mom says it looks like a toddler lives here, but that’s what happens when you’re a puppy! I can sense when my mom feels homesick, and I’m on it with cuddles. When mom comes back to the truck, I have a giant smile on my face — I love her so much. Fun Fact: When mommy sings, I join in, really!

Diesel Dog here. My dad saved me from a not-so-ideal home when I was 5-months-old, and I’ve been on the road with him ever since — TEN years! Boy, did I get lucky! Wherever we are, my dad looks up nearby dog parks, so you can say I’m a dog park connoisseur. I’ve played in parks all over the country, but my favorite is in Tulsa, OK. My dad noticed many drivers had dogs, so he created a Facebook group and developed a community of over 2,000 of us by handing out business cards with the group name to all the truckers with dogs he meets. He is awesome.

Little Foot here! I’m a 1-year-old Jack Russel/Chihuahua mix. I’ve been riding pretty much all my life. My dad got me up from a friend of a friend who had an ‘oops’ litter, and two days later, I was on the road, and haven’t left! I’ve been to forty-four states, but my favs are the Carolinas and New Mexico. I have a dog bed on the passenger seat and love to look out the window and take in the scenery. My favorite thing to do is curl up with my dad — he calls me a “great friend, who puts his mind at ease.” I love him so much. Fun Fact: I am a huge Detroit Red Wings fan, and I bark a lot when they’re winning!

Five-year-old Gunner here. My paw-rents saved me from a bad situation when they spotted me on Craigslist in Las Vegas. I was a wee 4 pounds then — I grew into 130 pounds, but I’m a total cuddle-bug! (Unless you get too close to my mom, I’m super protective of her.) My paw-rents have a picture of me on the side of our truck and named the truck Gunner’s Pit Stop. As you can imagine, I’m quite the conversation starter. Fun Facts: My favorite food is chicken, I howl (which is unique for my breed), and my farts are atrocious; you’ve been warned.

Smokey here. I’m 6-years-old. I was adopted at age 3 from a shelter in Kansas, and I’ve been on the road ever since! My paw-rents got me a sister, Stephie (she’s 4 and from Arizona) at 8-weeks-old, so she’s been on the road pretty much her entire life. We have a lot of room in the truck for us to play, and many truck stops have dog parks for us while mom fuels the truck. The craziest thing that ever happened to us: While the paw-rents were delivering fireworks to Disney World, we were running around in a fenced-in area and Stephie ran into a manhole full of water. I heard her swimming and started screaming. The paw-rents came running, but they couldn’t reach her. Dad was a superhero. He lifted the heavy cover, jumped in headfirst, and rescued her. She’s earned the nickname Michael Phelps (the Olympic swimmer).

Bonkers here. I’m 14-years old — yup, you read that right — and I’ve been riding since I was 2. My dad says I’m full of personality, and traveling with me, there’s never a dull moment! I make him laugh and smile every day, and I give the best cuddles. Even at the ripe age of 14, I love to play ball, go camping, and take walks in the forest and on the beach. Fun Fact: Last summer, I shattered my hip and the vet suggested amputation or putting me to sleep. Thank goodness daddy took me to a specialist who put six pins in my hip and I can still do everything I love!

My name is Buttercup, and I’m 5-years-old. Mom found me on the side of the road (thank-goodness) 4 years ago, and I’ve been riding with her since. I love her so much. She gives me plenty of walks and says I help her get out more, so we both benefit from each other's companionship. Fun Fact: I know when mom is having an asthma attack and when her blood sugars are off, and I nudge her with my nose and cuddle against her. We make a great pair.

Ahoy! Chip here! I’m 7-years-old, and I’ve been on the road since I was 3-months-old! There is so much I love about trucking! My paw-rents make sure I get a lot of exercise — I love playing ball, like obsessed with it. My favorite dog park is in New Mexico. I also enjoy the one on the Arkansas/Oklahoma line and one near the LAX airport. My paw-rents have been trucking for 45 years, and they’ve always had a dog with them! Fun Fact: For my 4th birthday, my paw-rents rented a table at the Dallas Truck Show and threw me a party, birthday hats, and all!

My name is Scarlett. I’ve been riding with my mom for over 4 years, which is pretty much my entire life. I have a really cool life! I’ve seen so many states and love to watch the cars go by. I keep my mom active and calm. Trucking is stressful, but she tells me having me as her co-pilot makes up for it. I think of myself as my mom’s protector — no one gets near our truck without hearing from me first. Fun Fact: I like to carry my leash in my mouth while walking, and I’m a self-appointed tug-of-war champion.

3-year-old Chewie here. My dad got me from Craigslist a few years ago when he got stuck in a snowstorm in North Dakota. Since then, I’ve traveled to forty-eight states with him! My most incredible talent is singing — I howl in the air and match dad’s pitch. Fun Fact: Dad photographs me in front of landmarks and companies we deliver to and sends them to the business — sometimes they post the photo of me on their website, so you could say I’ve had my brushes with fame. Last year he got me a sister, Minnie, from Craigslist in Texas. She is my best friend, and we sleep touching paws. Dad loves our companionship and meets many other truck dog paw-rents on the road through us.

Hey, I’m Dixie! I’ve been riding for 15 years! When I was 1, my paw-rents found me as a stray. When they brought me to the shelter, they asked my (now) paw-rents if they wanted to keep me because I had mean owners who weren’t allowed to have me. Wow, has my life turned around since that day! My paw-rents love me so much. They tell me I am their entire life. I keep them entertained with my quirks and cuddles. When we’re driving, I love to look out the window for cattle to bark at. Eight years ago, the craziest thing happened to me: My paw-rents made a stop to unload our truck and thought I got back in, but I was on the step below the door waiting to get in…then they started driving! I carefully stood still on the step for a few miles while dad was driving on the interstate. Luckily cars saw me and signaled for him to pull over. My parents were so sad that they put me at risk — to this day, they feel terrible, but I always tell them we all make mistakes. Plus, I have a great story out of it! (My other trick is that I snuck in here at #11!)

This article has also been published in Medium

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