A mini dog with a big personality keeps Ken and Katie Faykosh keen on the road.
The married duo, with their mini Pomeranian by their side, truck together — and love every mile of it.
Becoming a driver wasn’t intentional for Ken. In fact, he said he accidentally landed in trucking. His plan was to do what he’d always done: Drive flatbeds and dump trucks around northwest Ohio.
Then the commercial driver’s license (CDL) requirement came along, and Ken realized he needed to have one if he wanted to keep his job. So, he set out to earn his CDL.
That’s when he met Katie. Katie, who said she’d wanted to go into trucking all her life, had grabbed the opportunity for training — just at the right time to meet Ken at a CDL school in Florida.
Six months later, Ken had earned his CDL and wed Katie — but he didn’t keep his job. Instead, he said, he “fell into” over-the-road trucking and has been driving ever since. Katie drove over the road herself until she left to take care of the couple’s children, Trischa, Matt, Jeremiah and Josh.
Once the children grew up and left the house, the pair found themselves stuck with contrasting schedules. One night, they asked themselves why they were working without ever being able to spend time together. Ken said he has always prioritized his home life. He was asked once to be a part of management, but said it wasn’t for him.
“I want to retire, and at my retirement party, everybody ask, ‘Who the hell is he?’” Ken said with a laugh. “That’s the guy I want to be.”
So, with the kids raised, Ken and Katie headed out on the road together.
“We’re out here to make a few bucks, to pay off our camper, get us set up for retirement and just spend time together,” Katie said. “We lost so much time with him being on the road while I was raising the kids, that we just decided it was time for us.”
Not only was it time for Ken and Katie — it was time for them and a dog. Their first Pomeranian was a full-size rescue dog named Toby.
“She was just so mellow,” Ken said. “I used to take her for motorcycle rides, or you’d roll the window down and she just wanted to stick her nose out so she could get the wind in her nose. That ferocious little soul. She just did something for me.”
Ken and Katie loved the Pomeranian personality so much that they looked for more Poms to hop on the truck with them.
Little did they know, they would find a “princess,” as Katie calls her.
“We ended up with what we have now — total 180 degrees opposite (from Toby),” Ken said. “I figured she was meant for us and now we have an attachment.”
Their current Pom, named Possum, is a total diva princess, according to Katie.
“Whatever she wants, she gets,” Katie laughed. “If she’s not happy, no one is happy.”
During the winter, Katie thought it would be a good idea to get socks to keep Possum’s feet warm.
“Boy, was I wrong,” she laughed. “I put those socks on those feet, and she just gave me this look like she was going to kill me. She quickly pulled those socks off, and if I tried to put them back on her feet, she would try to bite me and growl at me. For the whole rest of the day, she was mean to me, like she was punishing me.”
Despite her diva ways, Possum is still the couple’s pride and joy. She’s just what Ken needs on the road, too. Ken looks like a truck driver who might own a Rottweiler or a Doberman, but Possum fits just right.
“You don’t need to have a mean dog,” he said. “That’s what a lot of people talk to me about: Don’t you need a bigger dog than that to protect the truck? I say, ‘No, I don’t. I just need a dog to bark and let me know there’s something’s wrong.’ Then, I’m going to toss her in the bunk and take care of the problem. I’m not going to put my dog in harm’s way. I’m the one that’s going to take responsibility to take care of what’s going on.”
Ken and Katie try to give Possum a joyful life through their trucking experiences. Stopping at different places with new smells is what makes the trucking life so lively for the Pom.
“The joy for us is how much she’s getting out of her life with trucking,” Katie said. “Trucking dogs have a good life. There’s not a whole lot of people that understand that. But trucking dogs have a good life because they have lives that other dogs just don’t have. They have smells, they meet other dogs, and everything is new every day for them. It’s just really neat how trucking brings out a unique personality.”
Possum’s life isn’t spent sitting in a house all day, waiting for her owners to come home, or being locked in a kennel.
“(Truck dogs are) with us 24/7,” Ken said. “There are people who go out and get a dog — and they’re gone all day at work for 10 to 12 hours a day. Then they go home, the dogs are excited to see them and then they push the dogs aside because they’re tired from work. Maybe if the dog is lucky, you’ll throw a ball in the backyard a couple of times. But out here we’ve got so many guys … that you’ll talk to them about their dogs, and they’ll get emotional.”
Ken said Possum will be his last dog, ever. He’s had about four dogs in his lifetime, but he said he just can’t take the heartbreak when they pass.
“It’s hard towards the end,” he said, his voice breaking. “When it gets to the end, it’s just hard. I can’t do it anymore.”
Possum is 14 years old, and Ken and Katie want to do their best to give her the best life possible. The two are on the road almost permanently at this point, considering their days off are spent camping and seeing nature.
The couple once lived near Yellowstone, Montana, so naturally, it’s their favorite site for camping.
“We’ve got to have a view,” Katie said. “We love the mountains, and we’ll probably always stay in the mountains.”
Having the opportunity to travel primarily in the Midwest is one of the reasons the couple drive for Transport Design out of Minnesota. It makes it easier to camp where they want.
In addition, Ken gets to use skills from his first job as a mechanic. Those roots have led him to fixing up an old pickup truck — a 1977 Chevrolet — to pull their camper.
“I love tinkering with my own vehicles and love cars,” he said. “I tinkered with cars in my earlier years.”
Now, he gets to enjoy his hobby, and it allows the three of them to travel.
“I couldn’t imagine my life without my doggies; that’s all there is to it,” he said. “I would trade my life for them.”
Ken said he doesn’t know what he would do without all of it — the traveling, Katie, his children and, of course, Possum.
They all keep him on his toes as he trucks on.
Hannah Butler is a lover of interesting people, places, photos and the written word. Butler is a former community newspaper reporter and editor for Arkansas Tech University’s student newspaper. Butler is currently finishing up her undergraduate print journalism degree and hopes to pursue higher education. Her work has been featured in at least nine different publications.