sleater_familyBy Tim Sullivan

We got a dog. Perhaps that is too pedestrian a way to put it? I mean we adopted a dog. She’s a rescue. I’m supposed to say that immediately right? I’m still working out the kinks on the lingo… There were some fits and starts on the road to adoption though. We kept finding more virtual hoops for this future dog to jump through. We weren’t comfortable adopting a dog that was too big or too small. She needed to be devoid of aggression and not too yippy or yappy. Some shedding was ok but fur tumbleweeds were not. She should get along with other dogs but not necessarily need a full time companion dog. If she could type ninety words per minute that would be great too.

Scanning the adoption sites made me feel a little jerky. If this dog needs to be so perfect to be acceptable, maybe I’m not cut out for dog ownership? Am I going to regret this for the next fifteen years? I cleaned the house feverishly in an attempt to hold onto a shred of order. But then one day Kristen forwarded a post about a dog named Sari. She was a 28 lb. mutt with the sweetest little face and floppy ears. Kristen wrote “this dog is cute” without any of the disclaimers I had gotten accustomed to (“but it says she always begs for your food….”) so what I read was “we are totally getting this dog.” The moment I saw the picture wasn’t excitement exactly. It was more like, damn, she got me. Now what?

I tried to hedge a little by agreeing to meet the dog but without the kids in tow. Because if they came, there was no way we get out of it. Kristen agreed. But when I arrived home from work Elliott and Margo announced that we were getting a dog and her name is Sari but we are going to change that to Sleater-Kinney Sullivan. Poof. The pressure of keeping the secret for more than two hours understandably caused my wife to cave and just like that we were on our way.

The kids cleverly renamed the dog after Kristen’s favorite band to secure her full support. I actually thought Sari was a pretty name but the kids heard “Sorry” and weren’t having it. I was flailing for some semblance of control over the situation and decided at the very least I get to give the dog a nickname. I’m the wordsmith around here, dammit! I came up with “Skinney” and was awfully proud of it but it didn’t matter. Margo declared that we will be calling her Sleater (pronounced Slater) and that is of course, the way it has played out.

The mutt seems to be part love, part playfulness and about 50 percent tongue. She is literally licking my ankle as I write this. She’s an effective waker-upper and a world champion chewer/de-clutterer. Just ask the Krusty the clown doll, the Nerf basketball, Elliott’s shoe, the Xbox game, the beanie boo and a host of other items that obviously should have been put away. She’s really just looking to help. We’re trying to stay ahead of her so Petco will probably see a bump in 4th quarter earnings. One $9 chew toy lasted all of 20 minutes so that entertainment cost us – $27 an hour. But she’s worth it.

Some people say they rescued a dog as if they strapped on a cape and thwarted an incident of bear-on-dog violence rendering all other pet owners inadequate. There is heroism and selflessness in this story for certain but we are merely the beneficiaries. Sleater-Kinney was saved by an inspiring agency called Angels Among Us ( She was nurtured and loved by her incredible foster parents Skyler and Josh. Now she is the fifth member of our family. We got a dog, and it is sort of amazing.

Tim Sullivan grew up in a large family in the Northeast and now lives with his small family in Oakhurst. He can be reached at

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.

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