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What happens when you fall in love online


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)

Woman insists taping dog’s mouth shut was joke


A Salisbury, N.C., woman insists it was just a joke when she posted a photo of her dog with her snout taped shut, but she has been charged with animal cruelty all the same.

Kimberly Ann Howell, 25, posted the photo above on Facebook, along with these words:

“I warned her. I told her I was going to teach her not to bite the baby again, even play biting. LOL. She so pidiful (sic). I can’t even make her keep it on for five minutes. LOL. She jumped up on me and was like but please mamma.”

howellAmid some critical comments, Howell took the post down, but not before someone — concerned either about the dog or the infant — tipped off county officials, who referred the matter to the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office, the Salisbury Post reported.

A detective questioned Howell, who insisted the dog, a young mixed breed named Leah, managed to quickly get the duct tape off her face. She also insisted the dog was not harmed.

The detective examined the dog and found her to be in good health with no other signs of abuse or neglect.

Howell, however, was charged with animal cruelty, jailed, and later released on $3,000 bond on the cruelty charge and failure to appear for outstanding traffic charges.

Leah was left in the custody of the family after the detective consulted with animal control officials about the case. Howell was told that a follow-up visit might take place to ensure the dog was being treated properly,

Since her initial post, Howell has responded repeatedly to the barrage of criticism she has been receiving online.

“Wow ok maybe I should of said I was joking when posting that,” she wrote on Facebook. “But honestly though people would know better anyone who spend (sic) a week at my house would see how spoiled and loved my dog is. Anyways guess I really didn’t think through but anyone who knows me knows when I got Leah she [was] skin and bones how (sic) that animal abusee (sic).”

(Photo of Leah from Facebook, photo of Howell from Rowan County Sheriff’s Office)

Social media propels the dog train to fame

You’d think, as regurgitory (is that even a word?) as the Internet is, photos and videos of Eugene Bostick’s doggie train in Fort Worth would have gone viral years ago — given it is about the cutest thing ever.

Now, thanks to Facebook, Buzzfeed and the like, what Bostick created 15 years ago to give a joy ride to his rescued dogs (nine at last count) is finally getting the attention it deserves.

Twice a week, Bostick, 80, cranks the train up and allows his dogs — Wally, Buddy, Daisy, Jack, Mickey, Ms. Nell, Chubby, Clyde and Bonnie — to take their place in their assigned seats for an hour-long ride around his 11-acre property.

If you think that sounds like a lot of work for an 80-year-old, don’t worry — Eugene gets help from his 87-year-old brother Walter “Corky” Bostick.

Eugene, a retired Union Pacific railroad employee, built the train cars with 55-gallon fiberglass barrels, and his John Deere tractor serves as the engine.

dogtrain1Each and every one of the nine dogs — all former strays or rescues — seem to look forward to the rides.

“Oh, they just love it,” Corky Bostick said. “Every time he takes the covers off, they start jumping and barking, ready for the ride.”

Eugene Bostick hooks a wooden ramp to the cars to help some of the older dogs in.

Only two of the dogs have ever tried to jump out — Bonnie and Clyde, brother and sister, who are now kept leashed into their cars.

While you can find videos of the train on YouTube from nearly as far back as three years ago, it was only last week that the train claimed its place in popular culture.

“We got a call from New York one morning telling us the video had gone viral,” said Patricia Bostick, Eugene’s wife. “The phone hasn’t stopped ringing.”

Most of the calls are from the news media, which somehow didn’t learn about the train until social media helped them out.

Last week, USA Today,, and even the local paper even made it out to take a look.

“Oh, I’m in good health,” Eugene told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “So I guess I’ll be driving them around for as long as I can.”

The Bosticks have collected the dogs over the years as strays, some of them abandoned around their property near downtown Fort Worth.

Eugene and his brother also tend to more than 30 other animals — domestic and not so domestic — including goats, rabbits, geese, ducks, fish, cats, squirrels, raccoons and coyotes.

(Photo by Bob Booth from the Star-Telegram)

Woof in Advertising: Tuna befouls the VW

That trio of sassy grandmothers currently being featured in a series of Volkswagen ads has a new traveling companion — a Chiweenie with an overbite — and true to his name (Tuna) he’s stinking up the place.

In the ad, the grandmas detect an odor in the vehicle, which they at first blame on it being diesel-powered. After some continued sniffing, they determine the real source of the foul smell: It’s Tuna.


Tuna — that’s his real name — had achieved some major fame even before appearing in the ad, with more than 1.5 million followers on his Instagram page.

And he’s already published his own book, “Tuna Melts My Heart: The Underdog with an Overbite.”

On top of that, he has his own Twitter and Facebook accounts, as well as his own website.

According to that website, Tuna is a 4 year-old Chiweenie (Chihuahua-dachshund mix) with an exaggerated overbite who was rescued in 2010 by Courtney Dasher at a Farmers Market in LA.

Within a year, Dasher created an Instagram account dedicated to Tuna’s photos. By the end of 2012, he had hundreds of thousands of followers.


Dasher said her goal was to “bring people joy through Tuna’s pictures that showcased his cartoonish looks and his charming personality.”

“Since Tuna is the epitome of the underdog, most people advocate for him and adore him for his endearing qualities. His loyal followers embrace his physical differences, have fallen in love with his charm and connect to his message; that true beauty comes in all forms and radiates from within.

“Furthermore, he is an ambassador for animal rescue, since he too was once rescued, and it has become a part of Courtney’s mission to raise awareness for rescue groups through this platform.”

Dasher met Tuna at an adoption event after he’d been found discarded on the side of the road near San Diego.

You can find more of our “Woof in Advertising” posts — looking at how dogs are used in marketing – here.

(Photo: Instagram)

Photo of “death row” hug helps two Atlanta pups avoid getting put down


Here’s a picture that turned out to be worth much more than a thousand words.

When an Atlanta rescue organization posted this photo on Facebook of one dog hugging another — a shot taken at a shelter shortly before both were scheduled to be put down — it was only a matter of hours before they were taken in by a foster parent.

Along with the photo was this explanation from Angels Among Us Pet Rescue in Atlanta, written from the perspective of one of the dogs:

“I’m Kala. This is Keira. We’re so scared in here. The people working in the shelters see how scared we are but just told each other that today is our deadline.

“We have to have someone rescue us or we’ll be ‘next.’ Keira is black and not a ‘real boxer,’ just a mix. She’s so brave and tells me it will be okay no matter what happens. She tells me to be brave too but I don’t know if I can be.

“Can you see our faces. Keira knows what will happen. You can see it in her eyes. She’s putting on a brave face for sure but I can feel her heart beating fast while I’m clinging to her.

“If no one saves us, someone will take her away from me. I’ll see her as she goes down the hallway. She won’t come back and I’ll cry.”

Within a few hours, both dogs were taken into foster care by an unnamed veterinarian from the Atlanta area, according to

The photo was shared thousands of times on social media, and received thousands of ‘likes.’

(Photo: by Malena Evans, courtesy of Angels Among Us)

Dog abandoned with couch in Phoenix


A Phoenix man apparently left both his couch and his dog behind when he moved away.

The dog, it seems, tried to make the most of things, curling up snugly among its cushions, where a neighbor took this photo and posted it on Facebook. It was posted under the caption,”Anyone want a pitbull? Our neighbors moved out and left their sweet dog here.”

We don’t know if the dog made a choice in the matter — opting to stay with the couch over the heartless owner — but if so, based on his owner’s callous behavior, he made the right choice.

“The gentleman moved out of his home and left his furniture and some garbage on the curb for pickup, and also left his dog,” said Melissa Gable with Maricopa County Animal Care and Control.

The home is near 43rd Avenue and Cactus Road.

Gable says the 3-year-old pit bull is doing well, and has been transferred from Animal Care and Control to the Arizona Humane Society.

Both organizations are now receiving calls from across the country from people wanting to adopt him or help him out.

“We have been inundated with calls people from the public, rescue groups, people who want to step forward and help,” Gable told

The photo was shared more than 1,000 times on Facebook.

A new family has moved into the home, but they say the dog doesn’t belong to them.

Animal control is sharing information with the Phoenix police, who will determine whether to track down and file cruelty charges against the owner.

(Photo: Facebook)

Palin: “At least Trig didn’t eat the dog”

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A smug and smiling Sarah Palin continued to defend photos she posted online of her son standing on his service dog to reach the kitchen sink, appearing on Today to lash out at PETA and what she called its hypocrisy.

The animal rights group has criticized the former vice presidential candidate for posting photos over the weekend of her six-year-old son Trig, who has Downs syndrome, climbing up on his prone service dog, Jill, and standing atop her to reach the sink.


Palin posted the photos on her Facebook page Saturday — along with a message to PETA that read, in part:

“Chill. At least Trig didn’t eat the dog.

“Hey, by the way, remember your “Woman of the Year”, Ellen DeGeneres? Did you get all wee-wee’d up when she posted this sweet picture

ellendog“Hypocritical, much?

“Did you go as crazy when your heroic Man-of-Your-Lifetime, Barack Obama, revealed he actually enjoyed eating dead dog meat?

“Aren’t you the double-standard radicals always opposing Alaska’s Iditarod – the Last Great Race honoring dogs who are born to run in wide open spaces, while some of your pets ‘thrive’ in a concrete jungle where they’re allowed outdoors to breathe and pee maybe once a day?

Aren’t you the same herd that opposes our commercial fishing jobs, claiming I encourage slaying and consuming wild, organic healthy protein sources called fish’? (I do.)”

Palin told Today that, in the case of her son, there was nothing wrong with standing on a dog.

“In this case yes, because Trig’s service dog is a strong, trained dog who does really, really love his best buddy Trig, and they put up with each other, and there was no harm at all to this dog.”

In her post, Palin wrote, “May 2015 see every stumbling block turned into a stepping stone on the path forward. Trig just reminded me. He, determined to help wash dishes with an oblivious mama not acknowledging his signs for ‘up!’, found me and a lazy dog blocking his way. He made his stepping stone.”

She questioned why her photos are drawing criticism when a similar photo, posted on Facebook by Ellen DeGeneres, who has been honored by PETA, led to little uproar, and hundreds of thousands of ‘likes.’

“I thought, absolutely hypocritical double standard, as usual, applied to, I don’t know, perhaps a constitutional conservative,” Palin told the Today show’s Savannah Guthrie.

“PETA simply believes that people shouldn’t step on dogs,” PETA president Ingrid Newkirk said in a statement.

“It’s odd that anyone — let alone a mother — would find it appropriate to post such a thing, with no apparent sympathy for the dog in the photo,” the group said.

We’d have to side with PETA on this one. I doubt you could find a veterinarian (outside of Alaska) that thinks children standing on dogs is acceptable — even among those who, like Palin, think animals were put on earth solely for mankind’s use.

That she chose to run for the camera rather than rectify the situation speaks volumes.

Jill is a service dog, not a piece of furniture. Invest in a step stool, Palin family.

(Photos: Facebook)