It wasn’t the first time someone has fallen in love online.
It wasn’t the first time someone dropped everything to travel across the country to meet and claim the object of his affection.
But it may be the first time that someone has been able to get members of the public to help finance such a trip.
That’s probably because the girl of Joel Carpenter’s dreams was a dog — a husky-shepherd-collie mix named Sadie that he spotted on Petfinder and was so smitten with that he bought a one-way ticket to Minneapolis to adopt her, knowing full well he didn’t have the money to get back home to Maine.
“For whatever reason, Sadie just struck me,” the 23-year-old told the Detroit Free Press. “I felt like I need to fly out to rescue her; at the core, there was just this intense feeling that I was doing the right thing.”
“You could say I’m winging it a little bit,” he added in an interview conducted while he and the dog were stuck in Michigan. “I was just kind of following my heart.”
Joel Carpenter flew from his home in Portland, Maine to Minneapolis on Sept. 22 and adopted Sadie from a local shelter.
While there, what little money he had — what with taxi fares, motels and adoption fees — ran out.
It could be Carpenter is just young and brash and a poor planner, but, more likely, he saw the whole thing as an adventure.
He knew he might have to rely on ride-sharing and couch-surfing on the trip home — and things started out well enough when he got a ride from Minnesota to Grand Rapids in a kindly gentleman’s RV.
There, he found a couple that invited Sadie and him to stay in their home. But when he ran into trouble finding another ride he decided to call a local news station to see if they could help “spread the word that I needed a ride back to Maine.”
Here we have to question whether Carpenter was so gullible as to think a news station would gladly broadcast his ride needs, or so savvy as to know he was sitting in the middle of a pretty good story.
After the news report, Carpenter’s phone started ringing.
“News papers and News stations all curious about my story. What was most encouraging was the positive support for me and Sadie. Many people became invested in our adventure, and wanted to help out any way they could. Many people have told me we should try Go Fund Me … So here we are!” Carpenter wrote on the Gofundme page he established.
Between it and a Facebook page started by his girlfriend, donations and offers of help poured in — food, toys, motel rooms and, finally enough money to buy an airplane ticket.
On Wednesday Joel and Sadie hitched a ride from Grand Rapids to Detroit, where another good Samaritan bought Carpenter and Sadie a hotel room for the night. On Thursday, he and Sadie flew home.
The saga of Carpenter and Sadie raises more than a few questions — including just how loose a screening process that shelter must have had to hand a dog over to someone who lived 1,500 miles away, with no money, and no clear way home. Was that irresponsible, or did they just fall for the romanticism of it all?
I kind of did, and I’m a cynical sort. But then again I uprooted my dog from his stable home to spend a year on the road, traveling across America in a car but on a shoestring, including doing a little couch-surfing and a little relying on the kindness of strangers.
Is the saga of Carpenter and Sadie proof that love conquers all? Is it the epitome of irresponsibility? An excellent adventure? Or is it just the kind of thing dog-crazy people do?
I ‘d love to hear your opinions on all this (and unlike most websites that ask you for that I really mean it) because — other than being happy they are safely back home — I’m not sure what exactly mine is.
(Photo of Joel and Sadie from WZZM)