Riley began traveling with AMS, taking pictures of the dog at U.S. monuments, mountains, lakes and oceans to send back to the sixth-graders. She and Miller even entered him in a Trucker Buddy dog contest, in which he won Best Dressed.
After Riley retired from trucking to become a hermit – a nun who chooses to live alone instead of in a community – she stayed involved with Miller’s classroom each year. Riley now lives in a hermitage in Huntsville, Texas, but still organizes AMS’ adventures. Travelers on planes, trains and trucks pick up AMS and drop him off, helping him log miles and photos for Miller’s classroom album.
The dog’s most recent trip took him to the Iditarod in Alaska, an exhausting sled dog race spanning 1,150 miles from Anchorage to Nome and usually reserved for large huskies and their masters. Miller and Riley accompanied AMS to Alaska, where he rode the first 11 miles of the race with Iditarod musher Rote Cortte.
Miller’s been able to experience the world in a different way since she met Riley and joined the Trucker Buddy program. “Trucker Buddy came and knocked down the four walls of my classroom and said, ‘Let’s go!’” she says. “It has given me the opportunity to expand outside my classroom and take my kids with me.”
Miller’s new Trucker Buddy, Lund driver Michael Krejci out of Antigo, recently made a class visit to pick up AMS and take him to New Jersey.
“It’s been quite fun,” Krejci says. “At first it felt a little funny. But after I got the chance to look through the information that he carries with him, I realized that it’s a great way to get kids involved.”