Cat Survives Rough, 400-Mile Journey Clinging to Semi-Truck's Undercarriageby Jana Ritter - Published: 3/07/2017
Paul Robertson is a 57-year-old long haul semi-driver from Minnesota who cures his lonely hours on the road by taking along his beloved feline traveling companion, Percy. But a few weeks ago, everything went south when Paul was struck with a bout of food poisoning in the midst of a long haul delivery job. He had pulled over at a rest area in Ohio and went to sleep hoping it would help him recover enough to finish the trip. But while Robertson was fast sleep, Percy decided he wanted to go on his own adventure and stepped on the power switch to open the window, then jumped out.
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When Robertson awoke and discovered what had happened, he immediately began searching the area for his furry friend. He also tried to lure Percy back to the truck by putting out his food, litter box and a pair of dirty socks. Still, there was no sign of the cat and Robertson realized he may have already ventured far beyond the rest stop. So the truck driver turned to the Facebook community with a heartfelt plea for help. "When Percy got out, his words spoke so deeply to all of us, especially ones that have been in that position of losing a beloved pet," said Teresa Schutz Esler, who is a close friend of the truck driver. "It might just be him and his kitty in the truck hauling down the road day after day, but when he logs onto Facebook, they have an entire extended family online, new and old, looking forward to hearing about their day's adventure."
The Facebook community sprung into action, sharing the post, offering prayers and tips, some people putting out calls to nearby animal shelters and creating a Go Fund Me page to help raise money for a reward. One person who lived in the area even drove out to the rest stop to help Robertson continue the search through rain and lightning. But after nearly 24 hours of searching and still no sign of Percy, Robertson realized he needed to get back on the road. A winter storm was moving in and he still had to make his delivery deadline. "I felt hollow and low and terrible," recalls Robertson. "But I couldn't be days late because my cat went missing."
Robertson says that driving those next 400 miles was the worst stretch he’s ever endured in his six years of truck driving. “Snow, rain and crappy old dirt roads ... potholes, puddles, you name it,” he describes. When he finally reached his destination in Shoals, Indiana, Robertson unhitched the trailer and drove the tractor to the parking lot to sign the paperwork. Then he suddenly spotted what he thought was a stray cat running out from underneath the truck. He walked closer to get a better look and couldn’t believe his eyes. It was Percy. Very dirty, very scared but very much alive. Robertson realized that the cat had been clinging to the undercarriage of the 18-wheeler through the 400 miles of snow and rain at highway speeds. By some miracle Percy had survived. Robertson quickly shared the good news about the joyous reunion on Facebook:
CALL OFF THE SEARCH!!! PERCY IS OKAY!!! :-) <3
“He was cold and miserable and a bit wide-eyed...he stinks like 400 miles of bad road and old truck ... but somehow this amazing animal rode with me all day today hanging onto the undercarriage! …
Aside from needing a warm bath, medication for an eye infection and Percy proof window switches, the truck driver and his co-pilot have since resumed their life and adventures on the road together. And with such an unlikely twist and happy ending, Robertson's story has since gone viral.
"This is the feel-good story of 2017," he smiles.