My Turn: Me and Sully Hit the Road

By: Nate Beale

Before Nate Beale moved to California and opened his own graphic design business, his life hit a speed bump in Charleston with a broken relationship. In an effort to turn his life around, he went to Charleston Animal Society to find a companion and that is where he met Sully. This is their story, one that perfectly tells the universal story of man’s best friend.

On November 1, 2008, my life changed forever.

That was the day I drove to the Charleston Animal Society in South Carolina with a plan to rescue a dog. This wasn’t a rash decision. My wife and I had separated five months earlier and when she moved out, our two dogs went with her. As with many young marriages, there was no one reason or person to blame; sometimes you realize you want different experiences out of life.

Prior to meeting my ex-wife, I never had a dog or even thought of owning one. When we met, she already had a Jack Russell named J.R., then a few years later we adopted Cooper, a 2-year-old German Shorthaired Pointer. Growing up in a family that had cats, I found out very quickly that having one dog, let alone two, was a whole other ballgame!

It wasn’t until after they moved out that I realized how much I missed having a dog. The silence inside the house was brutal. The absence of hearing paws click along the hardwood floor left me frighteningly alone with my thoughts. Even with a support system made up of friends, family, and regular trips to counseling, coming home to the silence was dreadful.

I finally found myself at the shelter to meet Folly, a Black Lab puppy who was up for adoption. After our meeting, it was apparent that he was going to be more work than I had the energy for at the time.

As I was about to leave, I had this odd feeling that I should walk through the facility one more time. He was easy to miss the first time; out of at least a dozen or so dogs, he was the only one not barking. His name was “Tater” and he sat quietly in the back of his kennel, looking suspicious of all that was going on around him. I’ll never forget that look; it’s a look that he still carries to this day. After filling out the paperwork, we walked out of the shelter and I gave him his new name, Sully.

The next several years would prove to be very hard for me emotionally and the timing of Sully and I finding one another was serendipitous. Looking back, I still remember staring at him and feeling that he was just as scared and lonely as I was. Together, we formed a bond and a new journey began.

Six years ago we drove across the country when we moved to California. Since then, we’ve easily walked, run, hiked, climbed, camped, and driven over 100,000 miles and have been to 27 states and Mexico together. We’re a package deal and I love that!

Early on, I discovered that Sully was always camera-ready, posing stoically or jumping with excitement, reflecting my mood and emotions. It then occurred to me that this was my way of documenting my own life without having the camera focused on me. Because wherever Sully was, I was too.

After deciding to leave my job and start my own studio in September 2014, it was fitting that I name it after Sully. Again, this wasn’t a rash decision. The day will come and Sully will pass, but the impact he has had on me is something that I’ll carry for the rest of my life. Without him, I would not have healed as quickly as I did, or moved to California, or traveled, or…the list goes on and on.

To see Nate And Sully’s entire road trip, visit