It was love at first sight for Joel Carpenter. When he set eyes on Sadie, via a photo over the Internet, he says he had "this intense gut feeling" and knew he had to see her. So the 23-year-old, who is unemployed, bought a one-way ticket to Minneapolis—it was all he could afford—and set off from his home in Portland, Maine, on Sept. 23. He has no regrets. "It was a calling, for sure, man. She's so beautiful," he tells the Portland Press Herald of his new dog: a 3-month-old collie, German shepherd, and husky mix, reports the AP. Carpenter, who first spotted Sadie on adoption website PetFinder.com, says he had just "$20 or $30" left in his bank account after the $300 plane trip and $175 adoption fee, so he started hitching rides when he could and sleeping on strangers' couches in order to get the 1,500 miles back home.
The pair made it to Chicago, where a man in an RV picked them up and took to them to Grand Rapids, Michigan, reports WZZM. He couldn't take them further, but he did buy Carpenter a meal and made sure Sadie had a bag of dog food. Someone else carted the new friends to Detroit on Wednesday and a Good Samaritan put them up at a hotel. Carpenter was expecting to be home in about a week, but WZZM reports a GoFundMe page hit its $500 goal, allowing Carpenter to buy a flight home; it departed Detroit on Thursday. Now home, is Carpenter—who is currently out of work and lives with his mom—able to handle his new puppy? "This is actually the first time I've gone out alone and done something crazy like this," he says. "I was just kind of following my heart." (A pilot diverted a flight to save this dog.)