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Happy Tail: The All-American Rejects new band member


Nick Wheeler plays guitar in The All-American Rejects (AAR). Here he shares how he adopted his dog, Dexter, who has become the band’s unofficial fifth member. (Like Petfinder on Facebook and enter for a chance to win tickets to see The All-American Rejects in concert, plus a signed copy of their new album, Kids in the Street!)


Dex chills out at the 2010 Vans Warped Tour, where The All-American Rejects performed.

We got off the road in late 2009. A song called “Gives You Hell” had literally taken us around the world twice that year. It’s always a head trip when the tour is over and you get plopped back down in reality. This time was different, however. There was definitely something missing in my life.

My family dog, Chiquita (whose portrait I got tattooed on my left leg on an episode of L.A. Ink), was in very poor health, and I had seen her for what I knew would probably be the last time when I was home over Christmas. So I decided that I would take take full advantage of the time off ahead and adopt myself a puppy dog!

I asked a friend in Santa Rosa Beach, FL — where I was living at the time — if he knew of any shelters in the area. He told me about Alaqua Animal Refuge (AAR, coincidentally) and all the work they do in the community. So my buddy Tex and I made the trip up to Freeport [where the shelter is located] the very next day.

That’s where I met a little man by the name of Buster. Knowing full well my affinity for animal-print stuff (faux, of course), Tex said, “You HAVE TO get him — he looks just like one of your guitar straps!” He was talking about Buster’s tiger-stripe-like brindle coloring. So I snapped this picture and went home to think about whether or not it really was fair for the little guy to go home with a touring musician.

But I couldn’t take my mind off Buster. I found myself taking my phone out to stare at his picture over and over, and I kept hearing the whimpers he’d made as I walked away earlier that day.

It didn’t take much longer for me to realize that he had, in fact, picked me! So the very next day I drove back up to Alaqua and adopted the little dude. I named him after one of my all-time favorite television characters, Dexter, and we got in the car to move to California and begin a new adventure.

Over the past two years, Dexter has accompanied The All-American Rejects on several writing trips, ridden with us on the 2010 Vans Warped Tour, and now I have a portrait of him on my other leg. We ended up going into the studio in late February of 2011, and he was a critical part of the team. It was apparent that he had become part of the AAR family.

We’re about to take off in support of our new record, Kids in the Street, and he will once again be along for the ride, making himself comfortable in all the bottom bunks of our bus.
See more pictures of Nick and Dex.

Are you a fan of The All-American Rejects and pet adoption? Like Petfinder on Facebook and enter for a chance to win tickets to see The All-American Rejects in concert, plus a signed copy of their new album, Kids in the Street!


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