Dogs in Trucks: Who’s Riding a Shotgun? Meet Shadow and Trixie.

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Dogs in Trucks: Who’s Riding a Shotgun? Meet Shadow and Trixie.

Job 2022-03-15March 15, 2022

by Nori Gale

Wendy and Shadow on the road

Wendy Turner of Dart Transit Company is traveling with her two pit bull puppies, a mother and daughter, Shadow (3 years old) and Trixie (11 weeks old).

Jenni Shukhratbekov of Dart Transit Company describes her first encounter with Wendy: “I met Wendy in October 2021 when she was on the Special Olympics Minnesota Truck Convoy. She is one of our wonderful drivers and travels with her very cute/sweet Pitbulls. on the road with her.”

Wendy’s travel schedule typically puts her on the road for two weeks and then back home for two-day breaks in between. She is considered an OTR (over the road) driver for Dart Transit Company, which sends her traveling through 31 states.

Get into truck driving

Shadow in his favorite spot, riding a shotgun

Often, the life of a truck driver is passed down from generation to generation, and Wendy Turner is an example of this: she learned the trade at an early age watching her stepfather hit the road. As an adult, she also had driver friends and was lucky enough to take an OTR trip. From there she got hooked and has been riding ever since.

The Attractive Aspects of Driving Trucks for a Living

Like many drivers we spoke to, Wendy enjoys the trucking life. “It’s peaceful. I love seeing new things, being on the road and always love having access to different landscapes.” When Wendy is on the road, she prefers the more mountainous parts of the United States, and when she drives, she likes to chat with friends on the phone to pass the time. She also enjoys listening to country music – especially Brett Young, George Strait, Alabama, George Jones – usually older, more traditional country music.

One of Wendy’s favorite places is Iowa 80, reputed to be the world’s largest truck stop. “Iowa 80 is off Interstate 80 in Wolcott, Iowa. It’s a really nice place to visit with a vintage truck museum where they have vintage trucks hanging from the ceiling.”

Wendy also loves the ability to leave the stressors of home behind and describes her job as having a calming effect on her life. Family and friends tend to lean on Wendy for advice and guidance, but when she goes on a two-week trip, they have to give her space. She seizes the opportunity to separate herself from everyone who depends on her at home, and she rejoices in being able to exercise some independence when she travels.

Driving for Dart offers a great culture and support system for truck drivers

Trixie in one of her favorite sleeping positions

Wendy has been driving for Dart since September 2020, and before that she drove for Swift for three years. Her home base is Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where she grew up. What Wendy loves about driving for Dart is the company culture. “Respect. Family values. If you have a family problem, they support you and make sure you stay home. They care about their drivers.”

Having dogs in the truck brings home on the road

What Wendy loves most about having her dogs on the road with her is the company. Shadow and Trixie are great company as she travels the country. “You can do activities with them while traveling, there are lots of toys in my truck. They are good company.”

On the road, Shadow usually spends time in the sleeper. Trixie lies between the seats or on the floor and she also has a duvet for extra comfort. Mother and daughter have a maternal bond and are good friends.

Wendy stays alone most of the time when she is on the road and has her dogs as companions, except when she is on convoys with other drivers.

Truck convoys can be a fun community-building event for drivers

A convoy of Dart trucks near and dear to the heart of Wendy for Special Olympics Minnesota

The Wall Street Journal describes a truck convoy as “a group of vehicles traveling together for mutual support, protection, or convenience. Truck convoys, which have been part of truck driving culture since the 1970s, typically involve several large trucks lined up on the highway going in the same direction.”

Wendy has enjoyed being part of convoys since she was a truck driver. The one she cares about is the convoy that Dart is sponsoring for the Special Olympics in Minnesota. This 17th annual event is a two-day celebration held in October at the Columbus, Minnesota Runs that raised funds for Special Olympics Minnesota. “I met a lot of very special, kind-hearted people, and it was good because we were all together for the event. We each got to take one of the Special Olympics kids on a ride with us. They love it because they can get in the truck and we all follow each other for a mile or two and then we come back together to where we started. The kids love the experience. Dart has been a proud partner of the Special Olympics convoy since over 15 years.

Shukhratbekov describes how Olympians and drivers teamed up to drive the convoy together last October: “Many Olympians were delighted to get in the passenger seat and get to know the drivers. With the help of local police , drivers and Olympians did a one hour loop north and then back to Running Aces. Our drivers take their time and work with their fleet managers to get to Minnesota for this event. We appreciate them for representing Dart for such a good cause!”

It’s fun to be on the road with two dogs

Shadow and Trixie, mother and daughter

When you spend many hours on the road every day with furry companions, one challenge is to make sure you give them a chance to get out of the vehicle and run. Luckily for Wendy, Love’s Travel Stops has dog parks at its facilities all over the United States with fenced areas where dogs can run free and play with other dogs. There are convenient locations, so it’s pretty easy for truckers to plan the route and give the dogs a chance to play.

Truckers deliver all types of goods

Wendy’s job for Dart primarily involves hauling personal care products for a major multinational brand, and she also hauls loads for one of the largest Big Box companies in the United States. “I am not a refrigerated trailer, I am a dry van.” This limitation helps shape the types of loadouts Dart will send it with.

Truckers must be aware of and commit to safe practices

One of the most important aspects of Wendy’s job is her ability to discern what’s safe and what’s not during a typical 410-mile day. If she can stay focused on security and intelligence, the rest will take care of itself. “How long a load takes depends on the weather and the construction a driver faces on the road – there may be loads you pick up and it takes two days to deliver versus you pick up a load and that takes you three or four days to deliver – it just varies depending on the area you’re running in.”

Working for a good company and having companions with you can be the two keys to happiness as a truck driver

Shadow and Trixie all came home for a night in their truck

“Dart is a great company to work for. They allow you to have pets on the road with you and they give you all the time you need.” Having her dogs as travel companions, Wendy has created a home away from home. “These are my babies. Fun, racing trying to climb on my shoulder or climb on my leg when I’m driving. It gives you a sense of freedom where you are on the road. You have peace, you are calm. Work can be a little stressful. At the end of the day, you come in, you shower, you pick up, you feed your dogs, walk them and relax. And they get into mischief. with each other, sitting down to feast, the simple pleasures.”

Fully equipped with a fridge, microwave, George Foreman grill and slow cooker, Wendy prepares most meals in her truck. At the end of a long day, she closes the curtains of her truck and prepares a big feast, which often includes a good steak. Sometimes Shadow and Trixie are lucky enough to get themselves served a piece of steak. After she’s finished dinner and cleaned up, she likes to put a “good girl’s movie” in the DVD player and settle in for the night. “Not much more than that. It’s just a single day.”

If you want to know more about dogs in trucks, check out this story on Jameson or this story on Sanza.

To learn more about WEX, a growing global organization, please visit wexinc.com.

Resources:
the wall street journal

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Nori is a Digital Content Marketer for WEX and is based out of our Portland office. Nori joined WEX in 2019, bringing over 20 years of creative experience in digital marketing and content writing. Nori is focused on improving our thought leadership messages and promoting more meaningful engagement on WEXinc.

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