JOPLIN, Mo. (KSNF/KODE) — It’s no secret that being a truck driver is not for the faint of heart. The stress of driving a truck and meeting tight deadlines, or delivering critical loads can easily pile up. And being away from home for extended periods can create feelings of loneliness and anxiety due to missing out on home life and events.
But trucking isn’t all bad, especially if you have a four-legged companion along for the ride. Semi truck drivers who take to the open road with a pet in the passenger seat say they wouldn’t have it any other way. According to MigWay (an asset-based expedited trucking company) 60% of truck drivers own pets, and 40% take their pets on the road with them. It’s apparent that pets play a crucial role in the trucking industry, especially when it comes to the driver’s wellbeing.
Joplin, MO based transportation company, Contract Freighters, Inc. (CFI) has a tolerant pet rider policy that permits drivers to bring their pets with them on the road to remedy this issue. CFI Corporate Communications Manager Katlin Owens found this to be an essential part of the company’s culture and gives their drivers more freedom to feel at home on the job.
Endrea Davisson and Chad Harmon are just two of CFI’s long-haul drivers that share the cab of their truck with a pet. Davisson shares her ride with “Sanza,” a two-year-old female Pitbull mix. Harmon, on the other hand, travels with his buddy, “Buster,” a three-year-old male Dachshund. Both Davisson and Harmon know first-hand the importance of having a pet along for the ride and say the following benefits are worth every mile.
Truck driving can be a lonely profession due to the work you won’t find in many other careers. Pets can be great companions for those who chose to be on the road for a living. They won’t be able to take the night drive as you sleep, but they can do a lot more for you. “Letting your pet tag along with you in the truck creates a sense of comfort and feels like a little piece of home is always with you,” said Davisson.
Animals can sense danger sooner than humans, so a pet (especially dogs) can alert you when trouble is nearby, preparing you to take action. “Bringing a pet with you on the road not only decreases feelings of loneliness and isolation but drastically increases your safety when you’re alone at night or in an unknown location,” said Davisson.
Keeping your pet in your truck with you could save your life and prevent a break-in during sleeping hours. “If I’m out of the truck or anything, his barking was a way to let people know, ‘Hey, this is my truck, so stay away.’ Buster is great when it comes to keeping the truck and the load we’re hauling, safe,” said Harmon.
Pet owners have been found to have lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides. Studies show that heart attack patients who own pets survive longer than those who don’t have a pet.
There has even been a study that proved pet owners over the age of 65, on average, visit the doctor’s office 30% less than those without pets. “Stopping to stretch and get some much needed exercise really helps me get back to driving again. I feel a lot better afterward, and I know Buster does too,” said Harmon.
We all need social connections in our lives, and having a pet with you is a great way to keep yourself from isolating and letting your mind wander. “It keeps your mind off of a very stressful job, and knowing that somebody’s there next to you, especially a dog with their unconditional love, makes all the difference in the world. Dogs are just something else — in a good way,” said Davisson.
There is data to back the claim that pets increase mental health by reducing anxiety, depression, and aggression. “Typically we’ll run 600 miles in a day, but we stop every 100 miles or so and make sure he gets a nice walk in. It helps me, also — to get my mind straight,” said Harmon.
Trucking with pets is a pleasurable experience if you have the right furry friend in your cabin. “There are drivers that have cats inside the cab,” Harmon claims. But before you start riding with a dog (or cat), both CFI drivers caution others to always make sure that the conditions are favorable to them. “I wish more companies would understand that their drivers would benefit from having a pet on board, or any pet as long as it’s reasonable,” said Davisson.
For the truck drivers out there interested in having a pet to share the cab with, both Davisson and Harmon say you should choose a pet that you can take care of while on the road. “I think it really helps the driver out having a pet on board. It certainly does for me. I would never drive without my dog,” stated Harmon.