Episode 34: Navigating the Challenges of the Trucking Market – Insights from Canadian Owner-Operator Samuel Bissonette

Brent – 00:00:01:

Welcome to Freight Nation: A Trucking Podcast, where we explore the fascinating world of trucking and freight management. We dive deep into the freight industry and uncover why the trucking industry is more crucial to our country now than ever before. Stay tuned to uncover the driving forces behind successful trucking businesses and hear from the hardworking truckers and leaders who keep the world moving. Let’s hit the road. All right. Well, welcome in Freight Nation. Man, do we have a fun day for you set aside. This is kind of a normal Freight Nation. You’re going to hear a story about somebody’s business operation and what makes it great. And I got a great owner operator on today. You’re going to get a little international flair today because he is from another country. He lives in another country to the north of us. But you’re going to get something really unique today on the podcast because it’s just such a great story. And if it doesn’t bring a little tear to your eye, I’m going to have to check your heartbeat today, Freight Nation. As I said, thanks for coming in Freight Nation today and being a part of Freight Nation, a trucking podcast from Truckstop. And we’re so honored that we can bring these stories to you and bring just ways in which we can motivate you to learn something about the trucking industry, improve your operation or improve the business that you have, and to be able to create more success for yourself and for your families. So it means a lot to us that you give us your time and listen today. So thanks for watching or thanks for listening and wherever you are. And we’re going to kick it off with one great guest today. One of the great, wonderful truck drivers that we all know and love, Samuel Bissonnette. That’s a great thing. He’s an Owner-Operator that lives in Quebec. And yes, that’s not in the United States. For those of you that don’t know where that is, that’s to the north, the great white north of us. He’s based out of Quebec, but he runs all over the nation, presently joining us from Syracuse, New York. Mr. Samuel Bissonnette. Sam, thank you so much for joining Freight Nation today.

Samuel – 00:01:56:

Hey, thank you for the invitation. I’m really glad to be here, lilke today.

Brent – 00:01:59:

Yeah, well, I tell you what. So I want to start off, by the way, Freight Nation, if I left a little part out of this, I’m going to surprise you with a story today. So you’re going to love this story. But I want to talk about Sam and his operation. He’s been doing trucking ever since he was about 20 years old in Canada and kind of grew up. So, Sam, talk to me a little bit about, so you were a young man when you got into trucking. You didn’t get in when you were 30 because you’re barely over 30. You’re 33 right now, which means you’ve been doing it for over a decade, but you got in as a young man. So what was it when you were a younger guy that said, nope, trucking’s for me, man. I’m going to get into it. I’m going to own a truck and I’m going to drive a truck. How’d you get into it?

Samuel – 00:02:35:

I started at 20 because I couldn’t start before. That’s the only reason I didn’t start before. But yeah.

Brent – 00:02:42:

Starting because you couldn’t start before. I love it. Yeah.

Samuel – 00:02:45:

That’s right. Yeah. I can remember I was drawing truck when I was like really young, like six or seven, eight years old. And I always liked trucking. I always liked truck. And somehow I’m not from a family of truckers. I have my uncle who did some trucking just a little bit between two carriers.

Brent – 00:03:03:


Samuel – 00:03:04:

But when I was younger, I decided to do other stuff. And it kicked me in when I got my driver’s license. Like I said, no, I need to be in the truck. I want to drive a truck. I really like looking truck. I really like everything about trucks. So yeah, I just decided to follow the instructions to become a trucker. We have a nice day, up in Canada, like learning, struggling, everything. And I did that since that first day I get there. I was passionate. I still love talking every day. I still love much that I did at the first time, it’s really inside me.

Brent – 00:03:35:


Samuel – 00:03:36:

I like that.

Brent – 00:03:37:

That’s fantastic. So I love it. So Freight Nation, listen up here. Sam got into trucking at 20 because he couldn’t get any earlier. So it’s in his blood. It’s what he loves to do. I love what you said. You’ve been drawing trucks since you were six or seven years old. And you even thought about doing something else. But trucking was really what you wanted to do and how you wanted to create the success of your life. And so I got my t-shirt on today. It says Trucker Nation right there.

Samuel – 00:04:00:

That’s nice. I got a 18 wheelers.

Brent – 00:04:02:

Yeah, you like that. I love it. I’m going to have to make a bunch of these and send them out to people because I’ve had people I have requests on. I want that t-shirt because it’s unique, all right? Because you’re not going to find it anywhere else. We actually were making them in America on the back. I’m putting them on the back of shirts.

Samuel – 00:04:16:


Brent – 00:04:16:

And I said, no, no, no. I want one on the front. So I got my Trucker Nation on the front.

Samuel – 00:04:20:

That’s nice.

Brent – 00:04:21:

We’ll get you one made, man.

Samuel – 00:04:22:

Oh, that would be great.

Brent – 00:04:23:

So the reason I say this, Freight Nation, trucking is a universal thing. It’s not an American experience. It’s not, you know, somewhere else. It’s a universal desire for a certain set of people that just really want to be in the truck, behind the wheel, going down the road, experiencing freedom, leading their own destiny, chasing their dreams of being a successful trucking operation. So I wore this shirt especially for you today, Sam. Because, you know, you’re like, let’s see, you’re like up here. You’re like up here in Quebec.

Samuel – 00:04:55:

Yeah, right. Just a little bit on the other side of the lake, of the Great Lake.

Brent – 00:04:59:

Oh, that’s okay. Right. I got you. I guess it’s over here, maybe. Maybe over here.

Samuel – 00:05:05:

No, on the other side.

Brent – 00:05:06:

Over here?

Samuel – 00:05:07:

No, more on the east side. Yeah, yeah, around there.

Brent – 00:05:09:

Okay. I’m pointing all different kinds of ways because it’s reversed on the camera to me. But look, so I bring that up because it’s super cool. So, all right, look, what was the first truck you drove? Tell me about it or tell the Freight Nation watchers and listeners about the first truck you drove and what it was like that first time you got behind the wheel of a really big truck.

Samuel – 00:05:29:

Yeah, I mean, the first truck I drove, like, when I get out of school, because when I was in school, the first truck I drove, I think it was an international ProStar.

Brent – 00:05:37:


Samuel – 00:05:38:

Yeah, that was an international ProStar. But the first truck I drove as a company driver was a Freightliner Columbia.

Brent – 00:05:44:


Samuel – 00:05:45:

Yep, that was a 2000, I think that was an 02. I’m not sure yet. But that was a Freightliner Columbia and with a cat in it and a 13 speed. And I really liked it. I mean, I wasn’t supposed to drive that day. I was just going to see a job interview. And the guy told me, I miss a driver. Do you want to just go and make a delivery for us tonight? I was like, of course, yeah, I will do it. He just sent me with the truck alone. And I was like, I was in love. I was in love. Yeah. I didn’t want to get back to the company.

Brent – 00:06:15:

So wait a second here. So there was like an empty truck and the driver didn’t show up and he needed a driver. And he said, hey, do you want to drive?

Samuel – 00:06:22:

Oh, yeah.

Brent – 00:06:23:

Is that kind of what happened?

Samuel – 00:06:24:

Yeah, he didn’t know me at all. I mean, I was just Thursday there. He wanted to go tonight. And I was like, this guy has trust because he don’t know me. So he didn’t know if I was a good driver or not, you know? I was a good driver, I guess, because he hired me just the next day.

Brent – 00:06:38:

You know, Sam, I got to laugh a little bit because it reminds me of the movie Talladega Nights with Ricky Bobby. When the driver jumps out of the car and he didn’t want to get back in. He’s like, you know, got eaten a chicken sandwich. And the crew chief goes, we got to get back on the tracker. We’re going to lose our sponsorships. Does anybody want to drive? And Ricky Bobby’s like, I want to go fast. I’ll drive.

Samuel – 00:06:58:

I want to go fast. Yeah, yeah.

Brent – 00:07:00:

You may be like-

Samuel – 00:07:01:

This is a great movie.

Brent – 00:07:02:

That’s fantastic. So you got in, you’re driving. So your first truck was, you said, a Freightliner Columbia.

Samuel – 00:07:07:


Brent – 00:07:07:

And then the second one was an International ProStar. Or was it the other way around?

Samuel – 00:07:11:

The International ProStar, was the truck I have in school. So that was the first really truck I drove.

Brent – 00:07:16:

Oh, in school?

Samuel – 00:07:17:

Yeah, in school.

Brent – 00:07:18:

Okay. Yeah.

Samuel – 00:07:18:

And I did drive that Columbia. And after that, I did, I think I worked for this company three years. I did some local transportation. I was driving for this company for around three years. I was doing some local transportation in Montreal. And then my wife started, she wanted to drive with me. Is, told she did go to the school. The same school I did trucking and starting there, we start driving for a guy who had two trucks, he was a broker, he had two trucks. I was did start to do some US transportation for this guy and team driving.

Brent – 00:07:51:

All right, so your first truck that you drove across the highway and you jumped in like Ricky Bobby, as we were talking about from Talladega Night’s it’s a Freightliner Columbia. And so, what was the first load that you hauled? What was in the trailer?

Samuel – 00:08:03:

That was an empty trailer. I need to get switched down to Montreal to pick it up and a full trailer of LTS stuff, and that was a dry box. The truck I had with a day cab, to do some local transportation.

Brent – 00:08:15:


Samuel – 00:08:15:

And yep, I just had to switch that trailer down in New York and down in Montreal close to the airport.

Brent – 00:08:19:


Samuel – 00:08:19:

And get back to the shop and, yeah, that was it.

Brent – 00:08:22:

Got it. All right, so you started out, obviously you’re working for somebody else at this time.

Samuel – 00:08:27:


Brent – 00:08:28:

How long did you work for another fleet or another operation?

Samuel – 00:08:30:

I worked there for around three years. And then, like I said, my wife decided to drive with me. And when she got her license, Just, go worked for a guy who had two trucks, who wasn’t no interpreter, the two trucks and he was starting to do some restaurant.

Brent – 00:08:45:

Right. Yeah. Now, how long did your wife drive along? Was part of the operation?

Samuel – 00:08:50:

She drove for, not so long. A couple months, maybe a year.

Brent – 00:08:52:


Samuel – 00:08:52:

And I did drive for this guy for a long time. And this guy decided to, stop doing some charting. So he sold me the second truck I have for this guy.

Brent – 00:09:02:


Samuel – 00:09:02:

It was a 389 Peterbilt, a mine. I just bought this truck from this guy, and then I started driving alone. My wife started doing some business with that thing-

Brent – 00:09:11:

Right. Right. So your wife and you rode together for a while. And then what was the point where she decided or you guys decided that it wasn’t best for her to be in the truck and she was going to be doing something else? What drove that decision?

Samuel – 00:09:27:

I think it’s a lifestyle. It’s a hard lifestyle, you know? Right. It’s not meant for everybody. And that was a little bit hard on her. And also… When we started to be like owner-operator, she decided to just stay home and do all this business. And also, I was on the flatbed market. It’s not like people who do like California with produce and everything on dry bugs. It’s easier to do some team driving in that case. On the flatbed Canistoga, it’s not worth it every time. Sometimes we were just two people driving forward. I could have done this alone.

Brent – 00:10:00:

Right. So you became an independent owner-operator. So running your own truck, getting your own freight. So are you the classic kind of setup where you’re doing the operations as far as like driving the truck and making sure things get delivered and face-to-face with the customer? And then your wife is helping you secure freight. She’s looking online and she’s finding loads for you and working with brokers. Is that the typical setup? Or do you do all of it, run all the operations yourself?

Samuel – 00:10:24:

Yeah, I find my load and I do like the operations for driving the truck and the customer and everything and make sure everything is good on the road. But she doesn’t want to take care of all the paperwork.

Brent – 00:10:33:


Samuel – 00:10:33:

Package. And then we’ve got a new broker. Custom paperwork invoicing and all the paperwork stuff in the office stuff.

Brent – 00:10:39:


Samuel – 00:10:40:

She is the one taking care of it.

Brent – 00:10:42:

So you said you have a 48 foot Conestoga.

Samuel – 00:10:43:


Brent – 00:10:44:

What’s the loads that you love to carry? What are the favorite loads you love to carry?

Samuel – 00:10:48:

My most common load I can do. It’s kind of the one I really liked. Up North Canada and going down to Georgia.

Brent – 00:10:54:


Samuel – 00:10:55:

It’s kind of my most common lane. And as crazy as it can sound, I also scrap metal.

Brent – 00:11:01:


Samuel – 00:11:01:

Loading with magnets. I did have some side on my trailer. I carry this.

Brent – 00:11:05:


Samuel – 00:11:05:

But the load I really like to do, the lane I really like to do when I have a chance is going on the west coast.

Brent – 00:11:12:

West Coast. Okay.

Samuel – 00:11:13:

I really like to do this, but I don’t have always the opportunity because sometimes I could get there, but sometimes it’s hard to get back from there up in Canada with a decent rate. That’s the main problem here.

Brent – 00:11:24:


Samuel – 00:11:25:

You have a decent rate to get back from Canada.

Brent – 00:11:28:

I got it. So you’re hauling from Northern Canada down into Georgia, and then you like to go out West as well. So let me ask, so this is kind of fun. This is kind of an applicable thing, right? So you’re young. I’d say you’re on the younger side. You know, the average owner operator is closer to my age in 50s, 57 in America. So you’re on the young side, but you’ve been doing it a decade. So you’re not new. You’re very experienced at doing this. How, in the last, you know, six or seven, eight years, how has some of the improvements in the truck helped you? And then how has some improvements in like the availability of information helped you?

Samuel – 00:12:03:

To do this, I was an owner-operator for a company who used to find me load. Yeah. So it would be good for you because the biggest improvement I have is when I encounter a truck stop button. Nothing’s changed things because now I could do everything myself and find my own load and just deal with the broker, the way I wanted to deal with the broker, because, you know, I was working for a bigger company. And sometimes they tell stuff to the broker that I won’t have tell, you know, I show up to the customer and they think I was broke down somewhere and that wasn’t the truth. And, you know, now I can deal with the low broker myself and give a good service and be proud of what I’m doing and just cut the middle people the most I can.

Brent – 00:12:44:

Right. So with the advent of like technology services or data services that you have access, you’re able to really run your business all by yourself.

Samuel – 00:12:52:

I do this 100% of myself for a couple of years.

Brent – 00:12:56:


Samuel – 00:12:56:

And I really like that. I mean, this is what I like the most.

Brent – 00:12:59:

You said you really like that part of it?

Samuel – 00:13:01:

Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. I really like that. I mean, I could give the 100% of my artwork. And it showed because the broker know what I’m doing and they know that I give good updates and they know that I keep them posted the most.

Brent – 00:13:15:

Right. So the technology has allowed you to help give sort of like meet the conditions of the broker that needs for you to inform them on what’s going on. So let me ask you a question. Now, it’s been a little bit of a tough market lately. Are you more optimistic about trucking or maybe a little not as optimistic about trucking right now?

Samuel – 00:13:33:

I’m optimistic because now we are down a little way. So I’m optimistic because I think that could be worse, really. So I’m optimistic that will be better in the future. Just we need to hold on and be strong to be able to get there.

Brent – 00:13:47:


Samuel – 00:13:48:

That’s the most thing. But I think that’ll be better in the future. Right. Yeah. It’s always kind of a up and down, you know, so now we’re in the down. We want you to help again-

Brent – 00:13:55:

Yeah, I got you. Fantastic. So what type of truck are you driving right now?

Samuel – 00:14:00:

Now I had a 2020 Freightliner Cascadia.

Brent – 00:14:02:


Samuel – 00:14:03:

I first bought this because I used to have, like I said, my first truck that I was on my authorities, that was 389 Peterbilt 2009. I really like that.

Brent – 00:14:13:

389 Classic. I got it, yeah.

Samuel – 00:14:15:

I really liked that truck. That was my dream truck. And I drove that truck and my brother decided to came with me doing some driving. In fact, my brother and my father just decided to go and take the truck in school because they saw what I’m doing and they are interested to it. So both of these did go to school at the same time. So my brother got to drive with me a little bit. And I decided to buy a 2020 Freightliner Cascadia because I wasn’t sure if I’m going to try to do some team driving with him. And that wasn’t the case. So for a little bit of time, I got two trucks and my brother was driving the 389 and I was driving the Freightliner. One time, my brother was in the customer and just a big forklift drive back into my Peterbilt.

Brent – 00:14:58:

Oh no.

Samuel – 00:14:58:

And he was total.

Brent – 00:15:00:


Samuel – 00:15:00:

He was total. So that was the end of my adventure with Peterbilt.

Brent – 00:15:04:

A forktruck totaled your 389.

Samuel – 00:15:07:

Kind of a big loader. Yeah, fork truck.

Brent – 00:15:10:

That’s a big fork truck.

Samuel – 00:15:11:

Oh, yeah, that was a big one with big coil and everything. Just back.

Brent – 00:15:14:


Samuel – 00:15:14:

Never looked behind and back right into the truck, and he was totaled. That was the end of the two-truck company.

Brent – 00:15:21:

I’m assuming your brother was okay.

Samuel – 00:15:23:

My brother was fine yeah my brother was fine just the truck that was a good thing but you know.

Brent – 00:15:28:

Right. Well, fantastic. So what would be your encouragement to other truck drivers, owner operators out there about getting into trucking? What would you say would be, these are the two or three things I’d say, hey, look out for, make sure you do, don’t do it this way. What are the few things that you’d say to an up and coming owner operator?

Samuel – 00:15:48:

I think the most important thing is to be sure that you want to live the lifestyle. Because if you want to become an operator, I mean, it would not be like you are just an employee. You know, you have to take care of way much more stuff. I’m not sure in this market, I’m not sure it’s worth it for money thinking. I mean, financially, I’m not sure if it’s worth it right now to do this. The only reason you can do this is because you’re passionate and you want to take care of everything. You want to live that life, working on the truck when you’re off. I mean, driving, maybe working more hard than you will work if you are an employee. But I think if you are willing to do this, the next step is just make sure you look out the number before you take a loan. Just know how much it costs you to run the business. And now when you know this, you can know if this loan is worth it or not, if you’re going to lose money. Because if you lose money on 10 miles, you’re going to lose money on 1,000 miles. You need to take care of, you need to take good load and give good service. Because as a home operator alone, you cannot give the service of multiple trucks. And the only thing you can make to show what you’re doing is giving good service, good update, taking care of low, taking picture, making sure everything is legit, making sure everything is matching the build rating, and I think that’s the queue of owner-operator, is good service with broker. So they can remember you and give you more loads and now you can try and negotiate better price, when they know.

Brent – 00:17:16:

Well, hey, Freight Nation, Sam just gave you three great points of view and advice on if you’re going to get into the business or you’re running a business, do it. All right, make sure, number one, that you’re committed to the lifestyle because, it’s not easy and it’s not for everyone. So make sure you’re committed to the lifestyle because that’ll really drive your attitude towards everything. Number two, when you’re looking for freight, make sure that freight can be profitable for you. Make sure you know your numbers, that you know how your operation is, and that you can make money on that. Because like he said, if you lose money on 10 cents on a few miles, you’re going to lose 10 cents on thousands of miles. So make sure that you know your profitability. And then in the end, this is always the standard, right, on anybody being a business owner. You’ve got to give good service to the customer. Whether it’s the broker, the customer, the shipper, the customer, you’ve got to make sure you’re giving good service because that allows you to, what you said was, negotiate for better rates the next time.

Samuel – 00:18:07:

Yeah, that’s right.

Brent – 00:18:08:

So super. All right, Sam, that’s been great stuff. I love hearing about your operation. I know other operators, Freight Nation watchers and listeners that are under operators or want to be under operators will draw a lot of it, a lot of enthusiasm and encouragement around your operation and your enthusiasm. And maybe even some more Canadians will jump in there and jump behind the wheel as well. You shifted to the reason why I got introduced to you. You have a phenomenal story. So, look, this is all around sort of like a best friend companion that’s in the truck with a lot of truck drivers. And I’m talking about that buddy in the next seat. I’m not talking about a, you know, a partner driver or something like that. I’m talking about a pet.

Samuel – 00:18:49:


Brent – 00:18:49:

All right. So you have a very unique situation where you have not one, but you have two dogs in the truck with you, both Denver and Dallas.

Samuel – 00:19:00:

Yeah, that’s right.

Brent – 00:19:01:

All right, introduce us to Denver and Dallas, and then tell the story about what happened to Denver, because this is super cool. So where’s Denver and Dallas? Where are they?

Samuel – 00:19:09:

They are right there. Here is Dallas, big boy. I’m Denver. Hey, Denver.

Brent – 00:19:16:

Oh, yeah. Wow. He’s a German Shepherd. He’s huge.

Samuel – 00:19:22:

He’s a Belgian chaperone. In fact, it looks similar. Belgian Malinois.

Brent – 00:19:25:

Is he a Malinois?

Samuel – 00:19:26:

Yeah, he is a Malinois. Both of these are Malinois.

Brent – 00:19:29:

Oh, wow. Where’s Denver? Good Denver here. Come on, Denver. Oh, there he is. Hey, Denver. Denver’s a little more shy than Dallas is.

Samuel – 00:19:47:

He’s calmer.

Brent – 00:19:48:

He’s calmer. All right.

Samuel – 00:19:49:

I got a third one at home. She’s a golden retriever. Yeah, she’s a golden retriever, and her name is Phoenix.

Brent – 00:19:55:

Oh, you have a third dog.

Samuel – 00:19:57:

A third dog, yeah.

Brent – 00:19:58:

I misunderstood the translation of French-Canadian in English. I thought you said turtle.

Samuel – 00:20:02:

Oh, no, no, no, no, no. No, I got a third one.

Brent – 00:20:06:

What’s the third dog’s name?

Samuel – 00:20:08:

She is a golden retriever, and her name is Phoenix.

Brent – 00:20:11:

All right, golden retriever Phoenix. All right, so how did you end up with Dallas and Denver, and then tell us the story about what happened to Denver.

Samuel – 00:20:21:

Yeah, the first one I have was Dallas. And Dallas, we used to have another dog at home. And she was accompanying to my wife while I was on the road. But this dog died. So we bought Dallas as a puppy. And at the same time, my wife was pregnant. And I don’t know people who know that breed, Belgian Malinois. Those are a crazy breed, like hyper energetic. And they are crazy. So as a puppy, that was too hard for my wife to entertain. And she was like really pregnant. So I decided to bring the truck with me. And since I did that, he’s always riding with me. And he really liked that.

Brent – 00:20:54:

Oh, yeah.

Samuel – 00:20:54:

And I got Phoenix the Golden Retriever at the same time with Dallas. But she wasn’t able to follow us. I drive bike. I walk a lot. And I mean, she could not handle the stuff we are doing with the Belgian Malinois Dallas. So I decided to have Denver, the second one. And like I said, I do a lot of bicycle with them. And that was what I was doing when I lost Denver in Virginia in Blacksburg.

Brent – 00:21:17:


Samuel – 00:21:17:

I was doing bike on the path. And that was too narrow. So I had to unhook them because they have some trees. And I didn’t want them to be stuck between me and the trees. And I unhooked them. And as soon as I did this, Denver saw a deer at the same time. And he just started chasing him.

Brent – 00:21:34:


Samuel – 00:21:34:


Brent – 00:21:35:

Okay. So Denver took off?

Samuel – 00:21:37:

He just took off. But I wasn’t too afraid because normally you get back. And it’s not a problem normally. But I don’t know what’s happened this time. But he just took off and never get back. And I started looking for him.

Brent – 00:21:49:

Oh, no. No way.

Samuel – 00:21:51:

Yeah. Really hard.

Brent – 00:21:52:

So Denver took off chasing the deer and didn’t come back. So what’d you do?

Samuel – 00:21:56:

I was with Dallas. And I was riding bike. And it’s kind of a bike path with small trail down there. And I was asking everybody, did you see this dog? Did you see my dog somewhere? And a young man starting to try to help me. He was trying to find him too at the same time. And I spoke with people. And maybe an hour after this, I heard somebody says, I got it. I got it. Far away. So I start running. And just a little bit before I get there, he just ran off again. And he did go on the street. I didn’t find him. I was still looking for him. Still looking for him. And around a couple of hours after this, it was like around 10 at the same night. I’ve lost him.

Brent – 00:22:32:


Samuel – 00:22:32:

We got a call from PD dispatch and a dog fitting description of Denver was hit by a car. Like-

Brent – 00:22:39:


Samuel – 00:22:40:

Five miles.

Brent – 00:22:40:

Oh, your heart must have dropped.

Samuel – 00:22:42:

Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. Five miles away from where I’m lasting. So we decided to get there. At this time, I got a couple people helping me. They are really nice, good-hearted people. And we get there. We didn’t find him. But two hours after this, somebody saw him still running. So I wasn’t too afraid he was dying, you know, like he was dead or he was really injured. And we got a couple sightings.

Brent – 00:23:04:

Oh, that’s good.

Samuel – 00:23:05:

And a couple in the next days around this location.

Brent – 00:23:08:

Did you stay? When Denver ran off, you stayed there looking for him?

Samuel – 00:23:12:

I stayed there the most I can and the most I could.

Brent – 00:23:15:


Samuel – 00:23:15:

But, you know, I had a load. I had a load on my trailer that I needed to be unloaded. This load hopped north in Canada.

Brent – 00:23:22:


Samuel – 00:23:22:

So I couldn’t stay until I find him.

Brent – 00:23:25:


Samuel – 00:23:25:

I had to get back in Canada.

Brent – 00:23:26:


Samuel – 00:23:27:

I dropped the load and I drove down to Blacksburg because that was like on Friday.

Brent – 00:23:32:

You’re kidding me.

Samuel – 00:23:33:

Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Brent – 00:23:34:


Samuel – 00:23:34:

I was delivering on Friday and I could spend the weekend home, waiting to get another load and get back to Blacksburg. I mean, I couldn’t.

Brent – 00:23:41:


Samuel – 00:23:42:

I needed to try to find my dog. So I dropped the load, hanging, going back for Virginia empty.

Brent – 00:23:48:

How far is it from where you drop the load back to Blacksburg, Virginia?

Samuel – 00:23:51:

It was around 700 miles, 700, 800 miles. Yeah.

Brent – 00:23:55:

Oh, my goodness.

Samuel – 00:23:56:

I mean, I couldn’t wait.

Brent – 00:23:57:


Samuel – 00:23:57:

I couldn’t wait the whole week. It was the whole week in there.

Brent – 00:24:00:

Okay. So you get back down there.

Samuel – 00:24:02:

I get back down there.

Brent – 00:24:03:


Samuel – 00:24:03:

And I found a load there the week after going back to Canada. So, I mean, I knew I would have something to move after. But I get back there printing some flyer. I got a printer in the truck. I think I print 600 or 700 flyers in the truck.

Brent – 00:24:19:

600 flyers. Wow.

Samuel – 00:24:20:

Yeah. The only thing I was doing is walk, trying to find the dog.

Brent – 00:24:24:


Samuel – 00:24:25:

And at the same time, I put flyer, give flyer to people.

Brent – 00:24:28:


Samuel – 00:24:29:

And I was walking on this residential street, and I was putting flyer in each mailbox.

Brent – 00:24:35:


Samuel – 00:24:35:

I was giving flyer to the postmaster, talking to all the shelter, talking to everybody on the path.

Brent – 00:24:40:


Samuel – 00:24:41:

People starting to really help me in that I got a bunch of people give me rides because I was in the truck or on bicycles. And sometimes, I mean, that was hard for me to move in the city. So, I got people who give me ride all day. I got really good people who helped me a lot down there. But eventually, I needed to get back.

Brent – 00:24:59:


Samuel – 00:24:59:

Pick up this load and get back up to Canada again. So, I did that. And I pick up another load down there, going to Georgia. So, on my way, I stopped there again.

Brent – 00:25:08:

Hang on a second. When you went back down to Blacksburg the first time after driving 700 miles, passing out 600 flyers, talking to everybody, get all these people looking, still didn’t find Denver.

Samuel – 00:25:18:


Brent – 00:25:18:

So, you had to go back to Canada again.

Samuel – 00:25:19:


Brent – 00:25:21:

To deliver the load load, and then what did you do?

Samuel – 00:25:22:

Then I just delivered that load. And I pick up another load going to Georgia.

Brent – 00:25:25:


Samuel – 00:25:26:

So, I knew that this is my regular lane, the most common lane I do. So, I know that I would drive the same place. And I know that I have time to stop in Blacksburg again, try to find a dog again.

Brent – 00:25:35:


Samuel – 00:25:35:

The more I could.

Brent – 00:25:36:


Samuel – 00:25:36:

And I decided to hire a person who do some dog tracking.

Brent – 00:25:40:

Oh, wow. You hired a tracker.

Samuel – 00:25:43:

Yeah, yeah, this company is called Professional Pet Tracker. And they are really good, I didn’t know that that thing exists before I try to-

Brent – 00:25:51:

Get out of here, that’s so cool.

Samuel – 00:25:53:

Yeah. so we tried, the same day the person arrived with the dog she was coming from Maryland, so she had to drive a long way too to get there to help me.

Brent – 00:26:01:

You did, okay.

Samuel – 00:26:02:

Yeah. So the first day we arrived there, we had a new sighting up in the mountain.

Brent – 00:26:07:


Samuel – 00:26:07:

Yeah. It’s kind of a big mountain with a lot of trail and everything. So we decided to get there, but that was hard to find, how it’s work, when you get a tracker dog you need to have something of Denver so it can smell.

Brent – 00:26:18:


Samuel – 00:26:19:

And you need to know the exact location where the dog was seen. That was hard to know the guy saw him, and he told us, like half a mile up this trail in the mountain, it’s kind of hard to know the exact place. Denver was you know, so that didn’t really work well with the tracker dog. We tried a lot, but that didn’t really work well. But after this, I finally had to get back to Georgia to deliver my load.

Brent – 00:26:40:


Samuel – 00:26:41:

So I go down there, and I pick up something else going to Canada, just, on my way back, I stop again in Blacksburg. And then we got a couple sightings in the same area. He was in the mountain for almost one week.

Brent – 00:26:55:

You’re kidding.

Samuel – 00:26:56:

With the sighting.

Brent – 00:26:57:

So another sighting.

Samuel – 00:26:58:

Yeah, another sighting.

Brent – 00:26:59:


Samuel – 00:26:59:

So I decided to, I think I bought like 20 pounds of ground beef and I have a barbecue in my trailer.

Brent – 00:27:06:


Samuel – 00:27:06:

So I decided to go there with the truck in the mountain.

Brent – 00:27:09:

20 pounds of ground beef.

Samuel – 00:27:10:

Oh yeah, yeah. 20 pounds of ground beef. I bought some bacon. I bought some, yeah, pretty much. And I decided to go in a mountain. I get there, bobtail. That was kind of a trail, man. And I was full-lock on the truck and tried to get in this place to set up a barbecue. And I did some barbecue for like 10 hours, non-stop. I was burning beef for 10 hours non-stop. Big smoke, everything. Oh yeah. And around 10 PM, it was dark.

Brent – 00:27:37:


Samuel – 00:27:37:

And I was still doing some barbecue. Around 10 PM. I heard something in the wood walking towards me. And I was like, oh, maybe it’s him. So I just saw two eyes.

Brent – 00:27:46:


Samuel – 00:27:46:

And I saw kind of a reflective vest. He has a reflective vest. I saw this and I was like, oh, I stopped moving.

Brent – 00:27:53:


Samuel – 00:27:54:

Because I knew he was in flight mode. It’s called flight mode. So that means even if he saw his owner, he might got a run. So I wasn’t moving. I tried to get him to come to me. And at one point I moved and he just ran off.

Brent – 00:28:05:

Oh, no way.

Samuel – 00:28:07:

I was so devastated because it was two weeks I was looking for him. And that was the first time I saw him.

Brent – 00:28:13:

Two weeks?

Samuel – 00:28:13:

Yeah. That was after two weeks.

Brent – 00:28:15:


Samuel – 00:28:15:

Yeah. So that was the first time I saw him and he just ran off. So I decided to take all my stuff and go up the mountain one mile more.

Brent – 00:28:25:


Samuel – 00:28:25:

But I’m with my truck. I’m bobtail, but I was driving with a semi truck in the mountain. I didn’t know if I was able to turn around. Everything was dragging. I was like, oh, man, that’s not a good spot. But I didn’t have any choice.

Brent – 00:28:36:


Samuel – 00:28:36:

So I get there. I start doing some barbecue again. But now.

Brent – 00:28:40:

In the mountain?

Samuel – 00:28:41:

In the mountain. Yeah. Still in the mountain. In the trail. I mean, that must be hard to get there with a car.

Brent – 00:28:46:


Samuel – 00:28:46:

Just to give you an idea. So I was doing some barbecue again. My driver door was open and I was laying down in my bed. Not to sleep. Just to wait a little bit during the barbecue. And. At some point, Dallas started to bark at the window. So I took him, tried to make him silent, and I saw Denver coming out of the woods.

Brent – 00:29:05:


Samuel – 00:29:06:

And I was like, oh, man. I held my breath and everything stopped. I didn’t move. And my driver door was open. So I saw him make circle around the truck. I did left some food on the footstep. And I was like, maybe he’s going to eat something there and he’s going to go after. I’m not going to try to scare him again. The plan was to know where he’s hanging out and put some trail cam and a big dog trap to catch him. That was the plan. But the driver door was open. And at some point, he just jumped into the truck.

Brent – 00:29:33:

No way.

Samuel – 00:29:34:

Yeah, he was standing right where I’m sitting right now. And I was in the bed.

Brent – 00:29:37:


Samuel – 00:29:38:

So I was right in the bed there where the dogs are. And he was standing right on the driver’s seat. And I saw in his face, he was smelling the air of the truck. And I saw in his face that turn like he knew he was back home now. So his face changed and he just walked to me and he was so angry. He was tiny, tiny. That was crazy.

Brent – 00:29:58:

Oh, yeah.

Samuel – 00:29:59:

He was tiny. You could count all the bones he have on him.

Brent – 00:30:03:


Samuel – 00:30:03:

Oh, yeah. He didn’t eat for the whole two weeks. So I just shut the driver door as soon as I can. I said, no, you stay in the truck, buddy. You stay in the truck. So I feed him and I couldn’t believe it. I was crazy. At this point, it was like midnight and that was exactly two weeks. I’ve lost him on a 10 and I found him the night of the 24, 25.

Brent – 00:30:23:

Wow. Midnight in two weeks. He jumps in the cab.

Samuel – 00:30:26:


Brent – 00:30:27:

Oh, my God. You get the door shut. I got to ask this question, Sam. I realized that Denver was home. How did you react? What was your emotional state at this point?

Samuel – 00:30:38:

I couldn’t believe it. I mean, I was thinking maybe I was dreaming. I didn’t know. I was really crazy because a couple of hours before this, that had been two weeks. So I was like, I don’t know if I would be able to find him. Now I’m lucky I got some load on that thing, but I would not have loads for, I mean, maybe I would not be able to get back here sometime. So, yeah, I was really happy. I mean, I was really happy. I’ve called my wife. I wake her up and she was crying. And I think she called me a couple of times after this, just to ask me if that’s true. Is that real?

Brent – 00:31:09:

Don’t believe it.

Samuel – 00:31:10:

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Brent – 00:31:10:

It’s a great story.

Samuel – 00:31:12:

So I just get back out of the mountain. I get back to my trailer and we had a good night of sleep.

Brent – 00:31:18:

Oh my gosh. I bet you had one of the best nights of sleep ever because for two weeks, you were just so happy. When you said I drove 700 miles back empty-

Samuel – 00:31:28:


Brent – 00:31:28:

To find my dog.

Samuel – 00:31:29:


Brent – 00:31:30:

You know what that tells me? It tells me number one is you got a great heart and that whether it’s a dog, your best friend, whatever it is, you’re going to be dedicated to your friendship and your connection to that animal or that other person. So that tells me, that explains a lot to me why you’re successful at your trucking operations. All right. So what an exciting story. And, so you showed them, they jumped up in your lap there, but I’m going to show the Freight Nation watchers a little picture here of you and the dogs here. Here we are right here. Boom. There we are. Look at them. Yeah, we sent Sam from Truckstop stuff for himself and for Dallas in Denver and for Phoenix and for everybody. You got your arm there around Denver, right?

Samuel – 00:32:14:

Yeah, yeah, that’s Denver, yeah.

Brent – 00:32:17:

I like their tongues hanging out right there.

Samuel – 00:32:19:

Oh, yeah, yeah. Yeah, that was all in North Carolina. It was a hard day.

Brent – 00:32:24:

Well, they look great, man. But let me tell you something. For anybody that wants to look into getting Belgian Malinois, you better get your rest.

Samuel – 00:32:30:

Yeah, definitely.

Brent – 00:32:31:

Those dogs are energetic. These are the dogs that they use in the military and the police forces to guard and take down people that are not following the law.

Samuel – 00:32:40:

Oh, yeah, yeah.

Brent – 00:32:41:

Belgian Malinois, great dogs, but boy, are they full of energy. So, Sam, yeah, that is a fantastic story, man. And thank you so much for coming on and talking about that, telling us the whole story. And thanks for providing inspiration about, you know what? You never give up. You just don’t give up on your work, on friends, and you sure don’t give up on your best friends, your old puppy dogs there in the picture, man. What a great story. Thank you for sharing that.

Samuel – 00:33:08:

My pleasure. It’s my pleasure. Thank you for the invitation.

Brent – 00:33:11:

Well, Freight Nation, man, I hope you got a lot out of this story. I know I did. I got to read it, but boy, it is so much more fun. Listen to Sam tell the story about Denver’s homecoming and how I’m sure Dallas was a part of that because he was barking in there at the back saying, come on, get in the truck with me. I miss you, man. Thank you so much for sharing that story. I appreciate you also talking about your business and providing inspiration there where you were talking about making sure you pay attention to the lifestyle, the profits and giving good service. And look, Freight Nation, this is what trucking is about right here. This is a story about what trucking is about. It’s about great people who don’t give up on anything to chase their dreams and create success and make sure they’re surrounded by great people, including their puppy dogs. So Sam, thanks again so much. So Freight Nation, that’s a wrap. Check Sam out anywhere. I’m sure there’s some stories that I know that you’re on the news as well. So check some stories out if you want to look into more about this. But we just appreciate Sam being on today and being a great customer and a great representative of our industry, the Trucker Nation out there. Just appreciate you being that. Sam, again, thanks you so much for being on. And Freight Nation, don’t forget to work hard, to be kind. And we say stay humble and also never give up on a friend, especially when it’s your dog. All right, Sam. Thanks a lot. Thanks for watching Freight Nation. We’ll catch you the next time. On behalf of the Truckstop team, thanks for listening to this episode of Freight Nation. To find out more about the show, head to If you enjoyed this episode, make sure you hit subscribe so you don’t miss any future episodes. Until then, keep on trucking and exploring the open roads with Freight Nation: A Trucking Podcast.

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