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Truckin' Dog

by Rebecca McKeehan 3 months ago in dog

Life on the Road with a Canine Partner

Bootsie somewhere in Arizona

When I was a long haul truck driver in the early 1990's, Bootsie was my erstwhile partner. She was my companion, my sounding board, my social icebreaker, and my security alarm all in one compact, cairn terrier's body. Her favorite place by day was lying on the dash watching the world go by while we were tooling down the highways and byways of the country. At night she would curl up in the sleeper, though I often told other drivers that she drove after dark because that's when the cops couldn't see her.

Bootsie took her duties very seriously. She was a conscientious watch dog who always knew when someone was near the truck, even when they were directly behind the trailer where there was no way they could be otherwise seen. No “lot lizard” came near the cab for fear of her sounding the alarm so I was almost always guaranteed brief periods of sleep. In the spirit of another cairn, the famous Toto, she was a bit of a clown who enjoyed putting on the occasional show for an impromptu audience. And she was the quintessential model whenever I wanted to put her in a photo. At the sight of the camera in my hands, she would always assume what I called her Rin Tin Tin pose: head up, ears pricked forward, back straight and tail held proudly. She was so impressive, at least to her way of thinking.

My stories from our time together are legion, as you can imagine.

Like a lot of other drivers with dogs, whenever I was inside a truck stop on a nice day, I would sometimes tie her out on the “DOT bumper” of the trailer with a bowl of water and her blanket. That didn't last past our first trip together.

One fine Sunday afternoon near Amarillo, Texas, I came back after having a shower, a meal, and doing my laundry, to find her entertaining a couple of other drivers who had parked alongside my truck. She was jumping and cavorting as if she was playing with her tennis ball, and it was obvious they were getting a kick out of watching her. As I drew nearer, the drivers abruptly turned away, but not before I caught a glimpse of unholy glee in their eyes. I instinctively dreaded what I would find, and I soon found that dread well placed. For when I finally got close enough to see just what was going on, I realized that Bootsie was having a grand time playing with a used condom! When I gasped out her name in horror, the drivers dissolved into wild gales of laughter. As I quickly set down my basket and rushed to the back of the trailer, one of them commented, “Well, at least she waited until he got it off!” I could have died on the spot! Needless to say, I never tied her to the trailer again.

Another time, we stopped at an interstate rest area at the top of a mountain in West Virginia, and spent some time out of the truck, walking around and eating at one of the picnic tables. Eventually, with our break time over, we once again took to the road and began the long descent down the other side. About half way down, a highway patrolman, or “smokie,” pulled me over for a spot check on my log and paperwork. He “invited” me back to his patrol car and I sat beside him in the front seat while he went through my paperwork, listening to the chatter on the CB. I'm sure you can imagine what kind of stir it was causing to see a big truck pulled over in front of a cop car with its lights going. I heard someone ask if that was the NorthAmerican that had been sitting up at the rest area. Another voice answered, “Yeah, I think it was.” Then he added, “I don't know about the driver but the dog was pretty cute.” If I'd had any delusions as to my attractiveness, they immediately vanished!

But, I think my very favorite memory of traveling with Bootsie was one that didn't involved anyone but ourselves. We were driving along a tollway when I gave in to my hankering for some Dunkin Donuts and picked up a box of my favorite cream filled at a convenient roadside oasis. Not long after, I stopped at a truck stop to fuel up. I left the box, with the lid closed, on the dash, and Bootsie in her usual spot guarding between the seats, while I filled the tanks and went inside to pay. When I came back out, the box of donuts was still on the dash with the lid closed and Bootsie was still vigilant between the seats. But her wiry face, with its expression betraying nothing but innocence, was smeared heavily with white cream. Honestly, how could I possibly be angry at that?

I only drove truck for about eighteen months before coming off the road and returning to my office job, but the many miles and long hours were much more easily passed with my little “Bootsie-lass” at my side. She and I were together for several more years before old age finally took her. I am certain, however, that I am not the only one with fond memories of our time on the road. She made impressions and friends wherever we went.

dog

Rebecca McKeehan

At 59, I'm still a Navy brat with a whole lifetime of interesting experiences that provide rich inspiration for my writing. I write short stories, of which my romances are best known, poetry, and the occasional article/essay.

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