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Travel Buddies

By on November 1, 2019

TRAVEL BUDDIES BRIGHTEN DAY

Joy on the Road

Paul and Sandy Lanuzza of Pigeon, Michigan have taken great joy in having Zohan, their 20-month old German Shepherd, on the truck from the time he was eight weeks old. They’ve been team-driving owner-operators for nine years, the last three dedicated to XPO Logistics. Originally, they got Zohan because they love dogs and recognize the health benefits of getting out of the truck, not only for walks but also the social aspects. He’s a great conversation starter.

They learned that Zohan’s maintenance, care, vet bills and food provide a tax deduction because his breed is recognized as a guard dog. He has done his job well. He woke Paul up one night near the Mexican border when two intruders were on the truck’s catwalk. One had shimmied between the cab and the fuel tank under the bunk.

Zohan

Zohan has established his own routine. When the truck is stopped, you’ll find him stationed in the passenger seat monitoring the passing foot traffic. When moving, he’s off duty and knows it’s time to sleep. Zohan’s favorite exercise is chasing a ball in a large grassy field. He really enjoys the larger dog parks at TA and Petro locations. His training has progressed so well that he can enjoy his favorite activity even in an open area without a fence.

“When lengthy repairs put us in a hotel with nothing to do but wait, we rented a car and checked out the local area,” said Sandy. “Recently, we enjoyed dog parks in Houston where Zohan learned how to swim. His precious ball was in the water and had to be retrieved. When he figured out that the water was cooling, he wanted to stay in. If we find attractions that we would like to see, but aren’t dog friendly, we look for doggy daycare so Zohan can have fun making new friends.”

Cuddly, Yet Aloof

From a mental standpoint, being on the road alone can be difficult for any driver, perhaps even more so for a woman. Alicia Gray has found that having Loki, her Chow Chow fur baby as she calls him, has significantly improved numerous areas of her life. 

Loki

Chows tend to attach themselves to one person and need to be socialized early and often. Alicia has found the right balance for her particular situation.

“For a driver like myself who has encountered some anxiety and depression, having a travel buddy helps keep me company and provides an excellent source of amusement when he’s ready to play,” said Alicia. “Loki is always there for me when I’m not feeling the greatest. Sometimes all you need is a furry cuddle buddy to help you feel more grounded, get you out of the truck for walks and playtime. Encountering another driver who has a pup often leads to a good conversation.

“When I was looking for my perfect pup, I researched a lot of breeds, focusing on their temperament, energy levels and coat requirements. I looked for a dog that was somewhat aloof to provide an extra measure of protection. I didn’t want a dog that was outright aggressive, super hyper, or required extremely long walks due to sometimes being in the truck longer than expected. I also looked at bathing and brushing requirements. With the exception of some TA and Petro locations, finding a dog wash on the road can be difficult.

“Loki is friendly, yet somewhat suspicious of people he doesn’t know. He won’t let anyone into the truck when I’m asleep and doesn’t require lots of exercise. Loki is more like a cat. A laser pen or a cat toy keeps him occupied for a few hours. He’s super furry but it’s worth it because he’s so cuddly and loving. I hope others who could benefit from having a travel buddy on the road learn from my experience and consider a chow.”

A 22-lb. Kitten

Ever since Chris Barry brought Chomper, a Maine Coon cat, on board 10 years ago, he’s had a travel buddy that has brightened every day. Chris resides in Lake Placid, Florida and is an owner-operator dedicated to J&P Logistics. The Maine Coon is the largest domesticated cat breed, has a distinctive appearance, and is the official state cat of Maine.

Chomper

Chomper is super smart, larger than many small dogs and sometimes acts more like a dog than a cat. Even though he tips the scales at 22 pounds, he’s very agile and has retained the playfulness of a kitten. From his upside-down perch on the dash, Chomper loves to swat at the squeegee when Chris washes the windshield and at the wipers during a rain storm. Even though he enjoys home time with Chris and his wife, Chomper is most comfortable in his home on the road. He and Chris are true travel buddies. 

Chris’ cab quickly became Chomper’s comfort zone as soon as he was litter-box trained. Chomper travels well, has an excellent understanding of spoken commands, and is a pretty good communicator with multi-toned meows and front paws that command varying levels of attention. Yet Chomper instinctively respects Chris’ need to focus on the road ahead and patiently waits for off-duty play time and some outdoor exercise. Chris utilizes a medium-sized dog harness when he and his copilot are out of the truck.

Chomper is a great companion and knows how to make Chris laugh. They’ve traveled to all 48 contiguous states and Canada. Chomper is very social and accepting when he meets new people. He’s achieved somewhat of a celebrity status due to his size and antics in the cab and is one of the most photographed and videoed travel buddies you’re likely to find. Chomper adapts well to technicians entering the cab to provide service, but has surprised a few when Chris forgets to mention there’s a giant kitten onboard. For Chris, the rewards far outweigh any of the work involved in caring for Chomper. 

A Chip Recommended

Mark Sarazin sent an email about the importance of inserting a microchip to identify a travel buddy. He said, “I’ve seen drivers lose their pets due to accidents, theft or escape during refueling or at a rest stop. One driver had a heart attack and during transport to the hospital, the dog escaped from the ambulance crew. Four days later, it showed up at a shelter, and the driver’s family was able to pick up the dog. Should your travel buddy be lost, a microchip almost always ensures it will be reunited with you.”

Travel Buddies

Tell us about your buddy 

Thanks to the RoadKing readers who’ve been sharing their travel buddy stories with us. Reader response has been excellent and we plan on featuring several travel buddy stories in every issue during 2020.

To be featured in a travel buddy story, send an email to the contact below with the answers to the following questions. Remember to send in a few high-resolution photos of your buddy too.

  • Questions:
  • How did your travel buddy come into your life?
  • What do you like about having a travel buddy onboard?
  • What are the benefits of travel buddy ownership?
  • Has your physical health / mental wellbeing improved?
  • Is your travel buddy a certified service animal?
  • What criteria did you use to select your travel buddy?
  • Any special care and feeding considerations?
  • How have you made your truck more livable for a travel buddy?
  • What tips do you have for those considering a travel buddy?

Editor’s Contact Information

Contact Warren Eulgen, via email or phone Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. C.T. as follows:

262.544.6600
Warren@HighVelocityCommunications.com

Subject Line: My Travel Buddy

Providing several hi-res digital photos (preferably 2MB or larger file size) is greatly appreciated. A story draft will be returned to you for review and approval prior to publication. Thank You!


About Warren Eulgen

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