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Hours on the road, time spent away from friends and family – it is no secret that being a professional truck driver can be a lonely profession. A pet, whether it be feline, canine or a feathered friend, can offer drivers companionship during isolated times, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), lead to a healthier, happier life.
Landstar Business Capacity Owners Jason and Heather Hutchens agree. “Even as a husband and wife team, what animals do for our mental health is incredible,” Jason Hutchens says. He and his wife Heather are an expedited team passionate about trucking with their Chihuahua pups, Toby and Abby, “The benefit of having a pet in your truck is simple - they just make you happier and that is important on the road.”
The Hutchens serve as advocates for Mutts4Trucks – a collaboration between motor oil company Mobil Delvac and dog food company Pedigree that pairs professional truck drivers with shelter dogs.
“The goal of Mutts4Trucks is to get dogs who really need a home connected with truckers who need company,” says Jason Hutchens.
“I think every driver should have a pet in his or her truck, especially solo drivers during the isolated times we are currently living in. Having a pet gives you a purpose and gives you something to look forward to and care for. Especially dogs, they have a way of lifting you up when you need it.”
Dogs do make awesome cab companions, but they aren’t the only four-legged friends with affection to give. Because not everyone is a “dog person” or has room for a dog in the truck, many Landstar BCOs ride with a variety of pets, including birds, ferrets, rabbits and what some call the “purr-fect” trucking partner – cats.
Regardless of the pet, there’s science behind the feeling that animal companions can boost our mood to help manage loneliness and depression. According to the Cleveland Clinic, petting an animal decreases the level of stress hormone cortisol and increases the release of the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, the two feel-good chemicals that help improve mood.
Scientific research also points to other physical health benefits of pet companionship, including decreases in blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and an increased opportunity for exercise and outdoor activities.
“Our dogs bring us so much happiness. They make us smile every day,” says Jason Hutchens. “Pets love to love and be loved. Everyone needs that, in my opinion.”