LOCAL FOLKS: Dogs find a trusted friend in dispatcher

By M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal

FURRS COMMUNITY – A trucking company’s office may not seem much like heaven, but keep an open mind.
“All of the drivers say that when they die they want to come back as a J & B dog,” said Gary Roberson, who works at J & B Services, Inc., on Highway 6 in Furrs Community.
One of his co-workers, Annette Kidwell, is a dispatcher for the company, and she’s the one who inspired that comment about the afterlife.
About five or six years ago, stray dogs started turning up at J & B, and Kidwell decided to make them welcome.
“The first one was a dog in a pen not far from here. A big white dog,” she said. “We just called him Bozo. The guy moved away and left the dog. We’d go over there and feed him and water him.
“He’d get between me and the gate when it was time to leave,” she continued. “He did a little dance with his paws.”
After a while, the owner came back and took his dog. Kidwell doesn’t know where.
But stray dogs aren’t hard to find, and neither is Kidwell.
“Somebody said, ‘There’s a sign in my yard that only dogs can see,’” she said.
Kidwell, a 46-year-old resident of the Jericho Community, has five dogs and three cats at home.
At work, she’s got three dogs – Moe, Mamma and Bossy.
“He is the only one here who barks, so we called him Bossy,” she said.
The name Mamma speaks for itself.
“She had two litters of puppies before we got her fixed,” Kidwell said.
And Moe? The chocolate Labrador isn’t really a stray. He’s got a home and an owner who takes care of him, but he knows a good deal when he sees one.
“Moe visits,” she said.

Cooperation, permission
Kidwell and co-worker Ray Brown split the cost of food, and they teamed up to get Mamma fixed. A trucker kicks in some cash once a month, and Todd Bates, J & B Services president, accepts the dogs as part of doing business with Kidwell.
“These are the only ones who will stay in the office with you,” Bates told her with a smile.
Kidwell has dog pillows beside her desk, so Moe, Mamma and Bossy can relax while she works.
There are three new additions outside. Using lumber collected by the drivers and shingles from a home improvement project, Kidwell built three doghouses, painted them white and put them outside her office door.
“Bossy helped paint the dog houses,” Kidwell said. “He got paint on his tail.”
Roberson arranged to have signs with the dogs’ names put on each house. Another sign says, “J & B Kennel Annette Kidwell Proprieter.”
“When she pulls up in the morning, they’re waiting for her. They’re pretty good,” Roberson said. “They don’t fight and bark. They’re really exceptionally good dogs. They know how good they’ve got it.”

Better shape up
As a dispatcher, it’s Kidwell’s job to tell truck drivers where to go and when to be there. The drivers carry loads all over the lower 48 states, and Kidwell sometimes refers to herself as their “baby sitter.”
If, heaven forbid, one of those drivers were to meet an unfortunate end and come back as a dog, he could do far worse than find himself in Kidwell’s care.
However, he’d be smart to copy the behavior of Moe, Mamma and Bossy.
“Truck drivers can be whiny crybabies,” she said, scratching Bossy under the chin. “Sometimes, dogs are better behaved around here.”

Contact M. Scott Morris at (662) 678-1589 or scott.morris@djournal.com.

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