By Julia Williams
When Bill Taylor tells you that his German Shepherd dog, Hannah, goes everywhere with him, he isn’t exaggerating. That’s because Bill and his wife Robyn are long-haul truck drivers, and Hannah accompanies them on all of their cross-country travels. I recently had a chance to chat with Bill and Robyn (while they were on the road, naturally) and thought our readers might enjoy getting to know them too. Bill had many interesting stories to tell about Hannah, who he says enjoys the nomadic life very much. Hannah also loves meeting new people everywhere they go, and strangers (especially children) get a kick out of seeing a dog riding in the front seat of the truck cab.
Five-year-old Hannah was just eight weeks old when the Taylors added her to their family and began taking her on road trips. Although this inseparable trio is away from home for several months at a time now, they were doing local deliveries when they adopted Hannah, which made it easier to get her adjusted to life on the road. Still, Bill says Hannah did just fine from the start, and travels well. Even more impressive, Hannah has not had a single “accident” in the truck, unless you count the time she upchucked. Bill is quick to point out, however, that even this minor transgression was not on the carpeted section of their cab. Smart dog indeed!
Many people think of their pets as more human than cat or dog, and the Taylors would agree. “It wouldn’t surprise me if Hannah said ‘Hello’ sometime,” says Bill. Hannah knows many words, among them cookie, squirrel, food, leash, walk, rabbit and cow. It doesn’t take more than a minute or two of talking with Bill to see that he loves his dog very much, and that he and his wife both really enjoy having her with them on their trips.
It’s also quite clear that Hannah, whose nickname is “Pupkus,” rules the roost… or the cab, I should say. According to Bill, Hannah doesn’t have her own dog bed in the cab because she prefers to sleep on their bed. Moreover, she carves out her space on the bed first, and he and his wife squeeze into the space that’s left. Bill says Hannah likes to curl up on her blanket and snooze away while the miles tick by, but she’s more than happy to get out and get some exercise when they pull into a rest stop. After her walk, Hannah heads straight to the cupboard where her cookies are kept, and waits to receive her treat.
Like any canine, Hannah has her share of quirks that make her all the more endearing. For instance, Hannah won’t drink water out of a dog dish – instead, she prefers to drink the melted ice-water out of a cooler Bill and Robyn keep in the cab. They know when she’s thirsty, Bill says, because she scratches on the side of the cooler until they open it for her. Another of Hannah’s idiosyncrasies is the uncanny ability to smell cows well before she can see them. The Taylors always know when they are about to drive past a herd of cows, because Hanna sticks her nose into the truck’s vents.
Of course, life on the road with a canine companion is not without challenges. For one thing, Hannah sheds profusely. Or as Bill puts it, “We just about build a new dog every day with the amount of hair she sheds.” Another issue is the amount of dog food they need to carry with them. Hannah eats CANIDAE dog food (the grain-free kibble is her favorite) and as anyone who feeds this premium pet food knows, it’s not available at the local supermarket or pet superstore. This means that the Taylors always bring along a large supply of dog food – Bill jokes that “Hannah has more food in the truck than we do”—and they also know which feed stores and independent pet stores along their route carry CANIDAE pet food so they can buy more if need be. (If you need to find CANIDAE pet food while traveling, be sure to check out the easy-to-use CANIDAE Store Locator designed for mobile phones.)
But Bill says without a doubt the worst experience he and Robyn have endured thanks to Hannah was the time she got sprayed by a skunk at a rest stop. Hannah was on a 30-foot leash so she could run around and burn off some excess energy, when she encountered the skunk. Luckily, Bill called a trucker friend, who knew of a place down the road that had a pet wash facility located next to a truckstop. They were able to get the truck and the dog washed at the same time, and Bill says the place did such a good job of removing the skunk odor that they now make a point to stop there whenever it’s on their route. Still, Bill says “That was the longest hundred miles I have ever driven.” Knowing all too well how sickening the smell of skunk is, I can only imagine!
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