After losing my Standard Poodle Nicky in a tragic accident in suburbia northern California in 1992, I thought I would never be able to replace her. In 2001, I moved to a farm in mid Missouri where I raised cattle and chickens. In my mind, this was not a place I would ever find a friend like her again. However, one day while having lunch with some other women, we were discussing our pets. (At the time, I had three outside farm dogs at home, but none were Poodles.) I piped up that no dog was smarter or more loyal than a Standard Poodle. They all agreed, and one woman stated that there was a woman in my area who raised Standard Poodles. Well, do I have to tell you how long it was before I contacted her?!! She had a male that was black and beautiful, just like my first Nicky. He needed a home . . . and I realized how much I needed his companionship.

With Nicky II in the house, I never felt alone again. My relationship with him was different than with the outside animals. We bonded, and he made me realize that a Standard Poodle could live on a farm and not be above playing with cattle (including the bull!). He even helped me put the chickens up at night. What a friend he has been! He anticipates what I need and then helps me do it.

It came time to find a job that would give me some adventure and income. So, after going to truck-driving school, Nicky and I joined up, and he now team operates the truck with me. He loves it and is a great help. However, the first time I took him to the truck, opened the door, pointed, and said, “In the truck,” his reaction was, “You want me to do what?!!” I had to put his front paws on the upper step and help him in the first couple of times. Now, all I do is open the door and tell him to get in the truck and, in a flash, he's in.

Nicky loves to play ball and plays any chance he gets. We have played ball in some of the finest parking lots on the continent! He has been to Canada as well as the Mexican border, and many stops in between. Everyone loves him, and we get such wonderful compliments everywhere we go. It's not all fun and games though . . . he has his work cut out for him as well. I am a petite woman and traipsing all over the country can be kind of scary at times. Having Nicky makes things easier.

He chooses to sleep on the front seat while I'm in the back, and he goes back to his bunk much of the time when I'm driving. I have been told that if I'm pulled over by a highway patrolman, I should quickly get in the back because Nicky will get in the driver's seat.  Then, I'll poke my head around and innocently say, “Sorry officer, was he speeding again?”

I have been asked many times to team with other drivers; however, Nicky is the best team member I could have on this truck. That's why it says on the door, “Rustee & Nicky, Team Operated.” I wouldn't have it any other way, and I don't think he would either. While traveling, you just might see us on the road sometime.

As we truckers say, “Keep the rubber on the road, and the shiny side up.”

Author: Rustee Ray

When considering Poodles with interesting careers, one doesn't usually think of team-operating a big-rig; however, this is just what Standard Poodle Nicky does with his partner Rustee Ray.