Ken has driven a truck professionally for seven years. If you ask him about his time on the road, those years are divided into two sections, and not evenly. The first five, while certainly successful, simply don’t compare to the last two. Actually, the last 19 months to be exact. All thanks to a routine stop at a Target in Sherman, Texas on January 13, 2017 – a Friday. Ken’s in the transportation business, so details don’t escape him easily.
A local animal shelter had set up a popup adoption drive. Although that stop was mostly a routine one, Ken admits the idea of adopting a dog had certainly entered his mind in the past.
“Being a truck driver can be extremely lonely. You don’t always take great care of yourself. Sometimes you catch yourself talking to the windshield. It can be tough,” he says.
Ken stopped that day for a Gatorade. But, all it took was one look at Sara’s precious 10-week-old face, a single “Would you like to hold her?,” and a couple of wet kisses on the cheek for Ken to land himself a new co-pilot. As a young rescue, Sara hadn’t seen much before Ken showed up. Since that January afternoon, Ken & Sara have covered over 200,000 miles, visited all 48 states in the Continental U.S., swam in two oceans, two Great Lakes, and the Gulf of Mexico. Things have changed, to say the least.
Whether they’re on a haul somewhere across the U.S. or back home visiting their favorite Rogers Park locations, Ken & Sara are about as attached at the hip as they come. And, Ken can’t imagine it any other way.
“I really think of her more as my Wookie. She’s Chewbacca, and I’m Han Solo,” Ken says with a laugh. With as much as they’ve seen together, it sounds about right. Times Square, Niagara Falls, Hollywood Blvd, Washington D.C., the Montana Rockies . . . the list goes on. And, with a new companion riding shotgun, the journeys carry as much joy as the destinations.
Drivers on the freeway love Sara. Sara loves them. Ken has an affinity for Burger King Whoppers. Sara loves those too. They constantly stop for impromptu adventures and explorations. Since the day Ken brought Sara on board, it seems there’s not a whole lot she doesn’t love.
“On a happiness scale from 1-10, Sara’s at a 1,000,” Ken says.
On one particularly memorable trip to Las Vegas, Ken saw firsthand what that happiness could mean to others. Ken happened to have a route planned to Vegas just days after the horrific shooting outside Mandalay Bay in October of 2017. In visiting near the site, Ken & Sara came across a few vacationers who had attended the concert and thankfully survived unharmed, although very distraught and shaken. They asked if they could pet Sara. In doing what she does best, Sara’s exuberance immediately brought a smile to their faces, and even tears of relief.
“It was amazing to see how meaningful a moment of normalcy and hope was to them,” Ken remembers. “Sara was put here to bring joy to people. And, I just get to bring her around to every possible place I can to make sure she gets to do that.”
And, that’s exactly what they do. Even when enjoying a brief home stint in Chicago, Ken doesn’t care much for sitting around. “I’m a ‘get out and see the world’ kind of guy,” Ken says, “My goal is to make every day for Sara better than the last.”
The day he brought Sara into his truck and into his life is still crystal clear. And, to his fellow drivers spending hours on the open road, his advice is quite simple.
“Go get a dog. Sara helped save my life. I love what I do for a living now and can’t imagine it without her.”
Ken & Sara’s story is part of Mutt Jackson’s THE JUST LOVE PROJECT – our blog series dedicated to celebrating the extraordinary bonds that exist between humans & their dogs. Every Wednesday, we’ll be sharing a new piece – be sure to subscribe to our newsletter so that you don’t miss an installment! And, if you or someone you know think you have a tale to tell, please shoot us an email at ILuvMutts@MuttJackson.com – we’d love to hear from you!