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The Pros and Cons of Pets on the Road

By Sandy Long

Sit back in any truck stop or rest area and you may see a vast array of pets, from birds to snakes, brought out of trucks for a bit of fresh air. The most common are dogs and cats, though I have seen some exotic pets on the road.



There are many benefits to having a pet on the road. They relieve stress and loneliness, get the driver out of the truck into the fresh air, and can provide security. I had a cat on the truck at one time who would nip me on the hand if someone came near the truck while I was sleeping, so even they are protection at times. My late little dog Lillian Russell was with me for 12 years and racked up over a million miles. Now if I was out of the truck, and anyone came near, she would raise some serious sand. However, if I was sleeping, she too would sleep hard depending on me to wake up if there was a problem, only then would she raise sand.

There are drawbacks to having a furry pet on the truck. Shed hair gets into everything and will clog up AC filters if inside the cab. Dogs, cats, and birds can cause seen and unseen damage to the truck itself. At my last company, who had a no deposit pet policy, there was a driver who had a duck on the truck, yes, a duck! He carried a plastic tub that he would put water in when he had time and allow the duck to swim in it. That duck was well trained to follow the driver anywhere, and the driver let him do so often. 

Two problems, while the driver made accommodations in the truck for the duck, the duck was not potty trained, so left a trail where ever he went, and the driver would take the duck into customers to show him off. That caused some issues for sure! The other problem did not arise until the driver moved to another company in the winter time. The boss had his truck detailed and assigned it to another driver. When the weather warmed up, the new-to-the-truck driver started to itch. The boss called in an exterminator to see what was the problem. It was bird mites and the truck had to be fumigated. No more ducks are allowed at that company.

Being on the road with a pet takes more responsibility, observation, and control than having a pet at home with a fenced yard. One has to scope out any area before walking the pet for any contamination on the ground or obstacles to the pet and the driver’s health. Many of these things are found in the grass at the back of truck stop lots, sadly. Used drug paraphernalia for instance, used prophylactics, body fluids and matter, and spoiled food to name a few things. Then there are the bad things for pets that nature provides, nettles, stickers, burrs and thistles, fleas and ticks, not to mention fire ants in the south and snakes all over in tall grass. One of the worse things that can be easily overlooked is antifreeze that has been dripped or leaked on the ground. Antifreeze is deadly to animals, even a lick of it off of their paws can kill them.

Some folks do not think and will walk their animals where they should never be walked. Two of the worst places I have seen this done is on the fuel islands on the concrete, and the other was at a grocery warehouse where the woman took her dog under the trailer while at the dock and allowed it to do its business, and no, she did not clean up after it. It is no wonder that some facilities will not allow pets on the property.

I would not give up the years that I had Black Cat or Lillian Russell with me on the road for anything. To be honest though, chasing Black Cat all over a truck stop when she would jump out of the truck, only to find her sitting on the step of my truck waiting on me, was annoying. Furthermore, with Lillian, having to get out of my nice warm truck in  minus 60 degree wind chills to allow her to do her business was not fun either, or in the pouring rain, or blistering heat. However, the unconditional love and their silly antics made my job easier for the most part and my life fuller.

Only you can decide what type of pet you want to have. I hear hedge hogs are becoming popular. However, think of the pros and cons of having a pet on the road, make sure your company allows them, and be a responsible pet owner. They are worth the trouble. 

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Taking Negativity Too Far

By Sandy Long

Everything a truck driver does is based on performance, the miles they drive, utilizing their time wisely, they money they make, fuel savings, and safety to name a few things. There are variables beyond a driver’s control involved. It is easy, if one area gets out of kilter, to allow negativity to enter into other areas, even into one’s personal life.

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Woman Driver Finds Value in J.B. Hunt’s Women In Trucking Sponsorship


(Reposted with permission from Jobs by J.B. Hunt Blog)

Local intermodal driver Julia appreciates the impact that the Women In Trucking Association (WIT) is having on the trucking industry and is proud to be a member. “They are letting women know it’s a choice… that truck driving is a possibility for women. They are changing the mind set of what can be a woman’s job,” she said.

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Trucking, The Great Pride Builder

By Sandy Long

March brought the International Women’s Day to the forefront of the news, celebrating the achievements of women. Here in the United States, a movement was formed where women were urged to stay at home for the day to show how much they contribute to the workplace and the economy. On the Women In Trucking Facebook Group, a question was asked about how many women truckers were taking the day off. Over one hundred and twenty responses came in.

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Planning for Murphy’s Law

By Sandy Long

Murphy’s Law is not a real law, but a rule of life for some. When bad things happen, one can blame poor old Murphy for it. The law reads, “if something can go wrong, it will.” As truck drivers, planning for those Murphy’s Law times makes dealing with them easier.

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Life Saving New Year Resolutions

By Sandy Long

Listening to satellite radio in the truck, I am appalled every time I hear of another major pileup involving multiple semi-trucks along with cars. People are dying, rigs are destroyed, lives are changed, all unnecessarily in my opinion. We had a very rare pileup back in the day, maybe one a year that I remember, what has changed?

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Sharing the Road with Semi-Trucks

By Sandy Long

According to statistics, 79% of all accidents involving semi-trucks are caused by car drivers. Few, if any states, require car drivers to learn during license testing about sharing the road with semi-trucks. This is an area that patently needs addressing. Who better to do so than a truck driver.

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Dangerous Places

By Sandy Long

With more companies going to ELDS, the limits of the Hours of Service and lack of quality parking, drivers are more at risk than ever before having to find anywhere they can to park. Recently, another driver was shot as he parked in a vacant lot near his customer. At last report, he was still alive even though he was shot in the head. While he was parked, a man came up to his truck and asked for money. When the driver said he had none, the man took out his gun and shot him.

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Respect Received is Respect Given

By Sandy Long

In a recent poll on the Women In Trucking Association Facebook Group, the overwhelming response to the question of what a driver looked for from a carrier was that they wanted respect.

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Giving Thanks this Thanksgiving Season

By Sandy Long

Holidays are hard for many truck drivers of both genders. Thanksgiving is one of the two worst holidays. Thanksgiving is all about family getting together for a big dinner, football games on the television, and catching up with little seen relatives. Many truck drivers have lost touch, or actually have lost their family, so are alone. Then there are those who have to keep working through the Thanksgiving holiday so cannot get home. Granted, some truck stops offer really great deals for CDL holders on the road for Thanksgiving dinner. However, it is not quite the same as having a home to go to.

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UV Rays and Trucking

By Sandy Long

UV Rays and Trucking

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The Quest for Excellence

By Sandy Long

A good trucker knows that no matter how long they drive, there is always room for improvement. There are many ways a driver continues to hone his/her skills. Recently, I asked the question on the Women In Trucking Facebook group “How do you try to keep improving your trucking skills?” Following are some of the member’s answers.

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Protecting Yourself

By Sandy Long

Trucking is dangerous in many ways. Accidents with other vehicles can happen in a heartbeat. Occupational injuries often happen to truckers. And to criminals, truckers are attractive targets. Protecting yourself from danger takes common sense, knowledge, and attention to everything in your environs.

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Opportunities in Trucking

By Sandy Long

When people think about the trucking industry they think about the jobs of truck driving and perhaps dispatching. They do not know of the many other jobs available in the industry. Many do not want to drive a truck, so due to lack of knowledge on their part, the industry loses the opportunity to hire what could have been a great employee.

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African-American Women Consider Trucking

By Ellen Voie, President/CEO, Women In Trucking Association

If you’ve ever attended Women In Trucking’s “Salute to Women Behind the Wheel” in Louisville, Kentucky, you’ll find the largest gathering of female professional drivers in the United States. These women come from all parts of the country, as well as Canada. Some are in their seventies; others are in their twenties. Some have been driving for decades, others are newcomers to the industry.

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Working Together Through Tough Times

Watching the news, I am reminded of the Vietnam War protests of the 1960’s and early 1970’s, also of the civil rights protests that occurred when I was young. People are angry and some carry that anger too far. This time, while African Americans are fine-tuning their civil rights, instead of only knowing what is going on through the television, radio, or newspapers, information and speculation is instantaneous through the Internet. Emotions run high on all sides … black, white, police, and yes, truckers. These emotions run the gamut from fear to anger to outright terror.

Reginald Denny was severely injured in the riots after the Rodney King verdict in Los Angeles in 1992. Denny was a concrete hauler who took a shortcut through the riot area and subsequently was pulled from his truck and beaten. The memory of this long ago act has come to the forefront in the current protests in truckers’ minds, even though no truckers have been physically harmed currently as of yet. The recent misinformation has it that Denny had died in the attack. He did not, Denny lives and works in Arizona.

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Natural Anthropologists

Have you ever watched how people act when they are driving their cars? Many make one scratch their heads in wonder. With all the education one gains people watching, truck drivers could be considered anthropologists.

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The Missing Truck Driver Alert Network

Women In Trucking members Lee and Kari Fisher are owner operators. Kari is a wife/rider on the truck helping with all aspects of the job except for driving. A few years ago, a friend contacted Kari and told how her husband was missing on the road. Trying to help, Kari looked for anyone who assisted missing drivers’ families … there were none. Seeing a need and having the time available, Kari founded the Missing Truck Driver Alert Network (MTDN) in social media and online.

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Lifestyle Changes

Personal

Many women who enter trucking experience culture shock after they get on the road for the first time after school. Preconceived notions about trucking shatter as they realize the reality of the job and find that their lives change in many ways. Some adapt, some do not and quit before they get really started.

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Keeping the Changes Coming

When Ellen Voie founded the Women In Trucking Association back in 2007, I quickly joined becoming a charter member. Ellen taught me right off that growing an association takes time, but once that growth could get going strong, changes could be addressed. In the nine years I have been involved with the Women In Trucking Association, I have seen those changes occurring.

For many years, women truck drivers were the little known secret of trucking; we were not acknowledged as truckers often if at all. Companies, of course, liked women in teams, because of the extra revenue teams can generate. And some even said that women drivers were safer. But they did not go out of their way to hire us or to encourage us to apply. Women from trucking families or with friends that were truckers might have looked to trucking as a career, but few from the general public even considered becoming a truck driver; most would get this look of horror if one mentioned doing so.

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