To view this video on mobile, tap here.

Joel Carpenter fell in love over the Internet.

Her name was Sadie, and she was waiting for him in Minneapolis. Their first kiss was on the sloppy side.

In this love affair, however, Sadie had little choice. Sadie is a dog, and Carpenter, 23, flew to Minneapolis on Sept. 23 to rescue the pup after spotting her on, an adoption website.

Carpenter was so smitten that he went ahead with the adoption 1,500 miles away without a plan to get back home to Portland. He only had enough money for a one-way ticket.

“I don’t know, the only way to describe it was this intense gut feeling,” said Carpenter, who was remarkably laid-back about the whole situation during a telephone interview Wednesday. “It was a calling, for sure, man. She’s so beautiful.”


Now he is meandering his way back East, getting by through the kindness of strangers.

At only 3 months old, Sadie was picked up as a stray in Minneapolis. When no one claimed her, the collie, German shepherd and husky mix landed in a shelter, and on the website where Carpenter first spied her.

Carpenter, who is between jobs and lives with his mother, mulled the decision for a few days last week before jumping on a one-way flight to Minneapolis. He was too broke to pay for a round-trip fare, having only enough to cover $300 for the plane trip and $175 to adopt the dog.

Beyond the adoption, Carpenter had little planned or budgeted.

The animal shelter, the name of which Carpenter said he could not remember, didn’t ask about his plans to get home, and he didn’t offer any information beyond his desire to adopt the dog, he said.

“I pretty much used all the money in my bank account to get her,” Carpenter said, noting he had “$20 or $30” left.


So he began hitching rides and sleeping on couches, posting on Craigslist for help and hoping for the best.

He caught a break when a man on a nationwide RV tour picked him and Sadie up, ferrying them to Grand Rapids, Michigan, buying Carpenter a meal and Sadie a bag of dog food along the way. The RV’s owner was on his way to Toronto, but Carpenter doesn’t have a passport and couldn’t tag along.

From there, with the help of some local television coverage in Grand Rapids that included footage of Sadie planting a dog kiss on Carpenter’s face, he found another person willing to help him on his journey.

By Wednesday afternoon, Carpenter and Sadie were en route to Detroit, hoping to be home in a week.

Depending on how swiftly he makes it back, a job interview with AmeriCorps might be waiting for him, Carpenter said.

Although Sadie is not vaccinated, Carpenter agreed to get her shots within a month, and have her spayed within two months, he said.

Had Carpenter used a third-party organization to adopt Sadie and have her transported to Maine, the dog would have been subject to Maine’s regulations requiring vaccinations and, in some cases, a quarantine.

Realizing that his free-spirited bid at animal ownership could be interpreted as irresponsible, Carpenter said he could not resist Sadie’s pull.

“There was something that was so compelling, I just couldn’t say no,” he said. “There were so many variables, and it all fell into place. It just feels right.”

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.