Me and Muggsy: Macaw serves as trucker’s highway companion

March 17, 2017

Mark Schremmer

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Larry Leckrone garners quite a bit of attention as he travels the nation’s highways.

First, people often notice his 1962 Kenworth C523. Next, they turn their attention toward Leckrone’s travel companion, a 36-year-old macaw named Muggsy.

“People are very interested in the truck and Muggsy,” said the OOIDA member from Colville, Wash. “They may forget who I am, but they don’t forget Muggsy, and they don’t forget my truck.”

Despite his modesty, Leckrone is just as memorable. A longtime owner-operator, he served in the U.S. Army for 30 years, earning the rank of first sergeant. He served as a drill sergeant for 17 of the 30 years.

Leckrone bought his first truck in 1969.

“I got my license when I was 15 years old when I was living in south Missouri,” he said. “I hauled walnut, cedar and a lot of grain in the summer months.”

In 1979, Leckrone bought his 1962 Kenworth from the original owner. He said he’s put four or five speedometers in it, but thinks the truck may have 5 million miles on it.

The words “Me and Muggsy” are written on the truck’s driver’s-side door.

Muggsy was born on St. Patrick’s Day 36 years ago in Larry and Kathleen Leckrone’s home. Macaws often live to be more than 100 years old. Kathleen has also raised other birds such as cockatoos.

“My wife named him Muggsy,” Larry Leckrone said. “We had five babies born all around the same time. He would eat all of the food and then he started to “mug” the food from all of the bowls.

“When he’s back home, Emily, our other macaw, has to eat fast or she doesn’t get to eat.”

Muggsy has been Leckrone’s partner on the road for about 20 years.Larry Leckrone, Muggsy Macaw

“He’s been my buddy,” Leckrone said. “He’s been up to Alaska, all of the provinces and all of the states down here with me.”

Leckrone and Muggsy developed a pretty solid routine. The macaw wakes up every morning by saying, “Daddy, I love you.” Then Muggsy will say, “big potty” to let him know that he needs to use the restroom.

“They’re very smart,” Leckrone said. “Their intelligence is equal to a 7- to 9-year-old child.”

Muggsy can say about 300 different phrases, including some songs and nursery rhymes, Leckrone said. His favorite song is “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”

It’s not uncommon for Muggsy to answer Leckrone’s cellphone and talk to the caller.

“Sometimes, he’ll call people on my phone and talk to them for a little bit, too,” Leckrone said.

When Muggsy isn’t talking, he’s often eating. Despite weighing only 7.5 pounds, Muggsy eats a lot.

“He eats two bowls of food a day, and they’re as big as a medium-sized dog bowl,” Leckrone said. “He eats a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables. He eats carrots, grapes, plums, peaches and apples. Every night, he eats a four-egg omelet.”

Muggsy’s favorite foods are fried chicken and four-cheese pizza with pepperoni.

In addition to being a companion, Muggsy also serves as protection.

“He is the best watch dog in the world,” Leckrone said. “If he hears anything outside, he is over the top of me and wakes me up.”

Muggsy is extremely protective of Leckrone and the truck, which is basically his home.

“I had a kid break into my truck, and he really regretted it,” Leckrone said. “He tore him up. He’s got the power of an alligator in that beak. He took one of the kid’s fingers clean off.”

After all these years of having Muggsy at his side, Leckrone said there would be a void without him in the truck.

“I wouldn’t leave the house without him,” he said. “Muggsy’s my buddy.” LL

 

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Mark Schremmer, senior editor, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and more than two decades of journalism experience to our staff.