Monday, January 5, 2009

Scrappy...

In order to introduce you to the next lucky dog to join our happy little dog shelter in the holler, I again have to give you some background so that you will better understand what was going on at the time.

As I described in the Speedbump thread, after moving to our happy little home in the holler, I was having difficulty finding employment within my area of expertise. The severance pay and retention money that I had received at layoff time from my prior employer were beginning to run out. I had tried unsuccessfully to drum up enough lawn care business to make ends meet. I also tried working as a short order cook at the local franchise of a popular chain country restaurant, but the pay would not have been enough and I found out that I can only serve up greasy food for about six hours a day before I become nauseous, which was about two hours before my shift ended. Who would have thought, as much as I like greasy food! I believe that God placed in the heart of man a need and a drive to provide for his family, and from my experience, there is no worse feeling than the frustration of not being able to find gainful employment. I can handle pain and sickness better than I can handle unemployment. I was pleading and "wrestling" with God in prayer during this time, reminding Him of His promises (as if he needed stupid me to remind Him) and pleading with Him. I clearly remember the depression and frustration of this time period.

Every time I would check the want ads for a job, there were two types of employment that seemed to be in abundance, nursing and truck driving. I knew that it took years of education to become a nurse, but truck driving schools promised to train you and make you a truck driver in two weeks, so truck driving it was. God was beginning to open doors.

I just want to say a few things about this truck driving period of my life. First of all, I have a lot of respect for truck drivers and it is a very good and honorable way to earn a living. It is best if you start while you are young, not when you are in your mid 40s like I was. Trucking companies pay based on years of experience, so when you start out, you pretty much spend most of your life on the road and you don't make a lot of money, which is okay for the typical 18 to 20 year old. As your experience increases and you keep your driving record clean of tickets and accidents, your pay begins to go up and you can then work your way into the jobs that get you more regular home time. The other thing about it that I want to point out is that it is a lot more than just driving, and sometimes it can be very demanding both physically and mentally. There are a myriad of federal and state laws that govern the truck driver, from having to keep an accurate daily log of where and how every minute of your time is spent, to what roads are closed to big trucks. Be patient, helpful and polite to those truck drivers when you're out there driving amongst them. Just about everything you eat, drink, wear, own and enjoy was brought to you by a truck driver.

So it was two weeks at a local truck driving school, after which I had my CDL (Class A Commercial Driver License, with Hazmat stamp) and I was hired on by one of the large truck driving companies. At that point, I spent the next four months of my life driving all over the country, with no home time and sharing the small truck space with a trainer that I did not get along with at all. For one, he was an atheist, which I didn't mind, but he hated Christians, so by extension, he hated me. To him, believing in God is stupid, so he assumed I was stupid as well, nevermind the fact that I had spent nearly twenty years working as a computer programmer/analyst for some of the top insurance and finance companies in the nation. Anyway, I survived the four months of working with the trainer and eventually was issued my own company truck to drive. As God would have it, I was issued a brand new Kenworth truck, and after three weeks on the road hauling loads solo, I finally earned three days of home time. It was soooooo good to finally see my wife and my home after four months.

As I'm typing all of this up, I'm remembering that first Christmas on the road and how God used some of His children to show me His love, but I will save that story for a separate posting so that I can get on to what this whole thread is supposed to be about.

During this whole time of truck driving, I usually spent two or three weeks over the road, and then would get about a day and a half to two days at home. Ever since I moved out on my own when I was 18 years old, I have had the companionship of a dog, so I asked my wife to spend some time helping me find a dog that could go out on the road with me. In order to have a dog ride with me, the company required a non-refundable deposit, so we saved up for that while my dearly beloved searched the local shelter's websites for a dog that would be small enough to share the cramped space with me. One day she came accross a dog at the dog shelter of a nearby town, a small female dog that looked a lot like one of my first dogs, Fea. After describing her to me, we agreed she was just right for the job, and Mrs. JP went and completed the adoption. I was waiting in the same nearby town for warehouse workers to empty my loaded trailer so that I could go on home time, so my wife met me there with the dog and we introduced her to the truck that would become her home for the next year and a half or so. She was a little shy about the truck at first, but it didn't take her long to get comfortable, and begin acting like it was her truck and her bed and I just shared the space with her.


The dog shelter had named her Molly, but we didn't really like that name for her. She is a rather wild looking wire haired Jack Russell terrier. The first thing she did when we brought her home was to tangle with the largest and toughest dog we have, Daisy. After breaking up the fight, putting her in submissive state (on her back) while the other dogs paraded over her, which is a good method of teaching the newer pack members that the humans are alpha in the pack and that they are not permitted to do battle for that position, we decided we should name her Scrappy, because she looked scrappy and had a scrappy attitude.


She was such a blessing to have with me in the truck. She was always just as excited to go back out on the road as she was to come home and see Mrs. JP. She was also great for public relations. I would be dealing with a grouchy security guard or receiving clerk, and then they would spot her looking cute in the truck window and their whole demeanor toward me would change.




I have countless funny stories about our days out on the road, but this thread is already getting quite long, so let me just tell you a few quick things about her. She is very friendly, very self-assured and very, very fast. She loves to hunt mice. She will smell them in their little holes in the ground and she will dig them up. She is a great napping companion, she can nap with the best of 'em. She is a flight risk, always trying to escape, so we have to be careful with that, because when she has gotten out, she runs as far and as long as she can and it is only because we have been able to jump in a car and go faster than her that we have gotten her back. We always have a little concern that she might get away unnoticed one day and get so far from home that we might never see her again. She is a joy and a dearly loved member of our happy little dog pack.



2 comments:

MAXMOM said...

Another wonderful story!!!
Scrappy has the heart of a lion - something like our own KING TOFFEE!
Your faithfulness too is totally inspiring and you have the gift of writing! Please would you 'write' sometimes on the day to day blog...I'm sure Mrs JP will love it too! For someone like me, sitting across the globe, it is refreshing to hear such honesty of emotion. I feel quite blessed!
Sending lotsaluv to your entire pack!
MAXMOM IN SOUTH AFRICA

Joy said...

I came over here from MAXMOM... I too am enjoying your stories about your dogs. Also, my husband did OTR trucking for many years, and he has many stories too. I can relate, as I went with him on some of his trips. Great way to see the country, but it's not like you get to do tourist-type activities, is it? You see the country from behind a windshield and many hours are spent at the loading dock of warehouses, correct? He no longer drives a truck OTR, and he is quite thankful. True, if it is done, a person should be young and especially unmarried and no family as you rarely see them. I'm off to read more about your family of dogs.