23 May Truck Dogs
August 12, 2015
I’ve been photographing candid canines in the backs of trucks since moving to Montana over a decade ago. We share them on the American Rural website, because there’s nothing prettier than a happy dog.
I became fascinated with truck dogs after we moved from the city to Whitefish. In my first couple years here, I mostly worried about all the dogs in the backs of trucks. They were everywhere. On the road, in the grocery store parking lot, outside the coffee shop, in the sun and snow. Questions about them confounded me: Did they like it back there? Would they fall out? And, the most confounding, would someone steal them?
Knowing how our own dog would cower in the parking lot of the vet’s office, refusing to move from the back seat until we just gave up and carried her in, I was pretty certain that the dogs I saw hopping into truck beds were happy to be there. The tail-wagging lunge into the truck bed was a big giveaway.
They also seem awfully sure footed back there. Now, I get the legitimate worry that they’re not safe in the event of an accident or brake-slamming event. But, that’s clearly the case for all those un-seat-belted pups inside cars as well. I’ve now watched enough truck dogs to know that if all of our drivers were as vigilant and skilled as our four-legged truck-bed riders, we’d have way fewer traffic accidents.
Lastly, coming from my big-city upbringing, I believed that if something of value was left unattended and unlocked, it would probably get stolen. It was unfathomable to me that dogs weren’t being regularly dognapped. But, since our move 13 years ago, I’ve yet to hear of a single canine abduction from the back of a pick-up truck. Go figure.
Truck dogs represent a way of life that I now treasure: The connection to nature and abundant fresh air; freedom to hit the road with those closest to me along for the ride; and the sense of security that comes from knowing that not every door or valuable needs to be locked down all the time. All this from a dog in the back of a pick-up? You bet. Good dog.