Requiem for an Old Truck

req·ui·em/ˈrekwēəm/noun 1.(especially in the Roman Catholic Church) a Mass for the repose of the souls of the dead.

There is something about a three-quarter-ton pick-up, once I manage to make the standing leap into the cab and crank up the air conditioning to the “jet-engine” setting, that seductively whispers in my ear, “Perfect Purse.” It’s a flawless carryall for a certain sort of woman. For the years that I was on the road training in Colorado, I always brought a saddle, an oversize first aid kit including colic remedies, and a bucket of bits. Of course, I had a few sizes of halters in case I came upon any strays that needed wrangling, and two or three dog beds.

I bought my last used truck fourteen years ago. It had been a no-frills work truck, half of the dashboard gadgets didn’t work, but it had low miles. It also dropped its transmission the first month I had it. By the second month, I had repair bills that added up to just less than I paid for the truck and a reputation with tow truck drivers with dog hair aversions. How bad of a lemon was it? Friends who were watching the debacle unfold felt so sorry for me that they all chipped in and bought me a set of tires. Alas, the truck and I were in a long-term relationship at least until I was out of debt.

Eventually, I’d replaced most everything under the hood and it stopped breaking down, so I drove it through a few more sets of tires. It carried posts and wire when I re-fenced the farm. It stayed between the yellow lines on the road pulling horses home in ground blizzards more than once, always with a good dog or two in the passenger seat. After we crossed 200,000 miles, I stopped looking at the odometer. Last Christmas eve, I’d scored a huge bunch of fence panels from a Christmas tree lot, loaded them into my horse trailer, and headed home. The truck and I had time to talk on a long slow trudge up a long slow incline and I took the hint. The truck wasn’t dead yet, but it wasn’t going to outlive me.

With the help of a friend, a new truck was found, a beautiful monster in a sweet horse-manure-brown color with a huge chrome cowcatcher on front. All its dashboard implements work simultaneously. It’s a whole other kind of purse entirely. More like an evening bag… if you’re a certain sort of woman. It arrived and then parked beside the house for the next three weeks waiting for temporary tags. Some of the joy was killed by a COVID loan delay, followed by a weirder-than-usual pandemic at the DMV.  Okay, I did drive it around the round pen a couple of times honking the horn at the geldings. It has a horn!

But I dawdled trying to figure how much my old truck was worth at nineteen years old. Should I donate it? Meanwhile, I got mushy driving it to the feed store. Things got positively weepy as I cleaned it out. I emptied the glove box filled with scribbled addresses of past clients, pulled my writing notebook off the dashboard, the jumper cables from under the seat, my extra jack, and that can of grease that’s rolled around for a decade. I just stared at a few old dressage pads in the gap between the front seats; the wool cooler on the floor in the back.

You’re like me. You can recognize a single strand of hair from a dog that died a few years back. It can be a sunny day and just like that, your lungs explode out your tear ducts. A memory of loss never goes away completely. Yes, I have dogs now, and this old truck became haunted early on, but the enormity of knowing I had lost more dogs than I would have in the future sucker-punched my heart and took my breath. I ached for the smell of puppy breath.

I thought of the line of good dogs who sat in the passenger seat and watched me give riding lessons. I called the truck their IMAX crate.  When the driver’s side door was open, they’d sit behind the wheel waiting. They didn’t want out, they wanted me in. Dogs helped me find this farm and helped me survive the first years here. Some of the dogs came home for the first time in this truck, lost and afraid. We built my horse business driving over backroads and freeways together. The only way I can tell time is by the dogs that were there with me. Giving up this truck is the end of an era.

I sprayed Windex and wiped the last of the nose prints, remembering the dogs that rode in the blue truck before this white truck. The dogs who worked in the gallery with me over a 30-year art career when I had the red truck. The dogs that stayed when humans left. The dogs that walked me at night and then, pushed tight against me so I could sleep. The good dogs all the way back to my first VW Bug. The absolute best and worst days of my life have ended with me and a dog, bumping down the road, being relieved to share each other’s company.

Will I ever let those dogs rest in peace?

The Craigslist ad read: For Sale: Ford Truck, not a city truck. It was used for the purpose it was built for- farm work and hauling. Decent tires, Tow package. Nothing fancy, bumpers have been bumped, honest scrapes and dings. Tailgate missing for your loading convenience. Jump seat missing for your dog’s convenience. Cash only. No dealers.

There were so many texts in the morning, that I worried about parking. The first looker arrived, the man introduced himself and his wife. He checked under the hood and asked if I would start it. More questions, then could he test drive it. He opened the back door to his car, and with extreme politeness, asked me if his dog could get in the truck. With a chuckle, I assured him she wouldn’t be the first and opened the dog door. Others call it the suicide door. The three of them went for a test drive. Back just a moment later, he said he’d take it and offered full price. As I signed the title over, he asked if he could borrow the plates to get home. He promised to return them, showing me his military ID. I thanked him for his service, and he added that his dog was an emotional support dog. He said her name was Hero. I turned to look at her; a chocolate lab sitting behind the wheel with everything under control.

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And in this conditional world, it’s only dogs who believe in free love. Friendships naturally ebb and flow, the circle of life can’t be controlled or altered much, but dog love is eternal. Let there always be dogs.” -Anna Blake

Anna Blake for Relaxed & Forward

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Anna Blake

54 thoughts on “Requiem for an Old Truck”

  1. Perfection. And a quote for the ages…“And in this conditional world, it’s only dogs who believe in free love. Friendships naturally ebb and flow, the circle of life can’t be controlled or altered much, but dog love is eternal. Let there always be dogs.” -Anna Blake

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  2. I have never been diagnosed with allergies but I think I must have them because so often when I read your posts my eyes water. Thank you for another oh-so-good read. My old trucks held many good hauling memories also, and I agree with you 100% about dogs. Thank you for sharing some of your four legged blessings. I enjoyed the pictures.

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  3. The only thing that saves me letting go of my beloved cars is imagining they’re being loved by someone new. In a world where people can be unreliable, my dogs and my trusty Volvo station wagon fill in a lot of gaps. You nailed it with this. 💕

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  4. Wow. Well this one sucker punched me right in the gut. Remembering all my pups who’ve helped me along the way. Haven’t forgotten a single one. PeeWee, Ginger, Pepper, R2, Marley, Indi, Bristol, Hopper, Hell Hound…. I can hardly remember a time I didn’t have a pup in my life. Thank you for sharing.

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  5. First, I am indeed a certain type of woman. I feel this whole piece – the dogs and trucks of it – keenly and deeply. I am reminded of Sue Hubbell’s old truck that she named Press On Regardless, and I am reminded me of my old truck – and the truck before that, and the truck before that. I’m glad your truck found its next dog. Sounds like a match made by dogs in heaven.

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  6. Well, the closest to a truck was my El Camino (which I loved) and yeah, Sugar was my passenger. That was my horse era (best time of my life) All my other “trucks” were mostly the huge older cars of a certain age – dogs owned the back seat. Now its a Camry! (dont get me wrong – its a good car – gets me there & back – if I could just keep the rodents from building nests in the cabin filter)
    I did NOT make it all the way to end with no tears. And Hero? Oh boy, Anna – sitting here with tears running down my cheeks – & this morning got up late & am just getting my 2nd coffee. Going out on the porch to read & watch over Suzy while she wants to be outside on her “bam” for a while.
    Have been making my way thru Michael Connelly books – reserving them at the library & using curbside pickup (so to speak). Works for me – havent been inside a grocery store since March! I’m lucky – my son & daughter-in-law take care of pickup & delivery. How great is that? I have to admit – grocery shopping has never been my favorite thing.

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  7. Needed to read this more than once, tears flowing down my face. I, too, get quite attached to all my trucks (and cars), & remembering all the dogs who have accompanied me on my travels, vacations, trips to various places. Sometimes, a favorite truck or car met an untimely end b/c of a crash & with it left wonderful memories of times shared with many faithful companions. Good to know others also form fond attachments to their vehicles and that they’re not “just hunks of metal”.

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  8. Agree with all above. Dogs are really something blessed. Please God, let there always be dogs. Trucks and cars are my pals and I name them and cry when it’s time to get a new one. But dogs! They are the love in life! Wonderful piece! Thank you!

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  9. Mine is 21 yo. New engine and xmission. With ghosts of many horses and best-dogs-in-the-world. It fits me. It is me. And with me it will stay.

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  10. Surely, Hero made it a seamless transition as Truck made the journey to its new home. Trucks don’t seem to be as emotional as regular cars. Like Appaloosas, they think one master is as good as another as long as you don’t get on their bad side. Of course, I really don’t know this for a fact since the last three trucks we have had are still residing at the old homestead. Momma Truck, a ’97 pickup (pretty but temperamental, for sure, and has been since the day she drove off the lot); Poppa Truck, a ’00 workhorse Diesel Dually worth its weight in gold; and Baby Truck, a small sporty pickup who could provide retirement income if ever it was restored to classic status — but not holding my breath on that one.
    However, the real story for me here is Preacher Man and Walter, Jack and Seamus, Tomboy and Howdy, Arthur and Hero. If clothes make the person, there is no doubt that dogs (and goats🙂) make the truck!

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  11. Hi Anna. I remember that truck well and many of the dogs pictured. I have an old dog myself right now (14+ years). And you can still make me cry. Sherri

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  12. I’m sitting here with a huge lump in my throat. We have a 2000 F250 SD we call Goldie. She is mostly retired now, but oh the memories.

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  13. You finished off a really rough day with this one, but thank the deities for dogs. Here’s the old one now insisting I pull it together!
    Thanks for the heart twist. Ann

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  14. I don’t know why I keep wanting to hang around with you as you’ve made me cry 3 times today !

    This is wonderful, just love it. Had to forward to one of my dog friends.

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  15. Awww, made me tear up, totally understand the attachment and the memories. Oh the memories…. Sounds like old blue found a wonderful new home, which made me smile! ♥️

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