Meet Chloe: Our Dog Adoption Journey

“I’m going to start praying for our dream dog because I don’t think we have to settle.”

I said this to Reed a few months ago when we started saving cash for our puppy fund. He laughed a little and told me there is no such thing as a dream dog, every dog takes work, and I might need to lower my expectations a little. Fair enough, I thought. But I’m still going to pray!

So I did and we kept on saving, hoping we’d be able to get the right dog for us sooner than later. With Baby Sowell on the way, we wondered when the “right” time would be. Before baby or after baby? After many conversations over the dinner table and chatting with friends, we decided to give ourselves some time to adjust to a dog before the baby arrives. We set our sights on January, considering a couple months good enough before our family grows in early March.

Throughout my life, my family had dogs but I don’t ever recall having a personal or special connection with any of them. I figure having four siblings, living a ministry-focused life, and being a total bookworm had something to do with that. I’ve always liked dogs, but it wasn’t until I met Reed that I discovered there’s a massive difference between “liking dogs” and being a “dog person.” I have never met a bigger dog person than my husband. We can’t walk by, drive by, or see a dog without Reed listing off facts about that particular breed, oohing and ahhing over what a “good boy that fluffer is.” Since the beginning of our relationship nearly eight years ago, I have learned to expect being tagged in about 5 dog accounts or posts on Instagram a day, where I can most likely read a comment from Reed saying, “we don’t deserve dogs.” The love is real, people - and I know you fellow dog people are nodding in agreement!

A year or so ago, I would have honestly told you I’d be okay with never having a dog.

I had no reason or experience to influence me otherwise! Though I knew I could personally live without a dog, marrying Reed meant something different. Bringing a dog home was not a matter of if, it was a matter of when! So as we began to have the conversation of what kind of dog, I had nothing to base my decision off of beside how cute I found the dog to be!

I resolved that unless I found the dog to be completely and utterly adorable, I could never manage all the other responsibilities having a dog would require. So when Reed would show me videos of Labs, Boxers, Pitbulls, or other big dogs playing in the yard, I just couldn’t imagine myself in that scenario. I was too busy scrolling through Instagram accounts dedicated to Dachshunds, French bulldogs, Goldendoodles, or Pugs - usually wearing sweaters or bowties. It was only when I looked at the price tags of those adorable breeds, I was brought back down to earth. Reed shared with me his heart to adopt, and he’d tell me all about the dogs without homes or hope in shelters, but I never really connected. Until of course, we went to one.

Over the last couple of months, you could say Reed and I have become regulars at the Peninsula Humane Society down the street.

This experience of going, meeting dogs, and playing with different breeds for hours at a time has absolutely changed my perspective on dogs! I’ve learned so many sad stories of neglect, abuse, and trauma. I’ve learned through hands-on experience which kind of personalities make me feel relaxed and in charge, and which ones don’t! In just a short of period of time, and after walking away from a couple of dogs we could have easily taken home, Reed and I discovered what kind of dog would work best for our life, personalities, and future.

If you want to feel more confident with dogs, or perhaps like me, need to warm up to the idea because of your spouse - I highly recommend spending some time at your local shelter!

There, you learn that the old saying “don’t judge a book by its cover,” rings true! A dog may look adorable from the outside looking in, but his personality could be the last thing you want in your home! Similarly, the dog that appears big and scary could actually be the biggest cuddle bug you’d ever meet! I’m so grateful Reed encouraged me to grow in my own confidence with dogs, and helped me see beyond the vanity of getting a dog that would simply look “perfect” on our Christmas card. No longer did it matter what the dog looked like because I realized that the personality of the dog is really what makes it cute! It may sound silly to some, but I feel Reed has helped unlock a part of my heart that was once cold and detached from dogs, and it’s added so much joy to my life!

A few things we resolved we wanted most in a dog after our trips to the SPCA were:

  1. friendly, non-aggressive or territorial personality.

  2. Interest in humans but not overly clingy or anxiety-prone.

  3. Approachable and nice to other people and dogs (of all shapes and sizes!)

  4. Energetic enough to fetch, run, go on long walks and hikes, but laid back in the home.

  5. A medium-large breed, and at somewhere between 1-3 years old (we realized neither one of us were in the place to take on a puppy, no matter how cute!)

  6. Eager to please and obey, with proper training and consistency.

This was the mental checklist we had both agreed on, but I had a few additional prayers I was sending God’s way. Daily, I started asking God for a dog who would be able to play or sleep on its own because of our busy schedule, one who wouldn’t bark at every living thing, one who wouldn’t chew or stink up our whole house, one that would be a blessing to our lives and the lives of others, and one that didn’t shed too much. A few people told me I was asking too much, and I couldn’t expect a dog like that from a shelter.

Oh ye, have little faith.

Fast-forward to present day. I’m sitting quietly on my couch on this crisp, Monday morning, sipping my coffee, and typing away. Reed is at the gym getting an early workout in, and our new dog Chloe is asleep on her blanket. She hasn’t barked at any of the dozens of dogs that have walked by our front window, she hasn’t chewed anything up, she hasn’t had a single accident in the house, and she is perfectly content just being in the same room as me. Chloe obeys every sit, stay, shake, come, and drop it command we give her. She hasn’t whined for more than five minutes in her crate when we put her to bed at night, she has no food aggression, people love her, and the biggest surprise of all: I love her too.

It truly feels like she’s been with us forever, and I kid you not when I say today is only her fourth day in our possession!

She is an adorable, one year old Pitbull-Terrier mix, and all we know about her past is that she was tied to a pole at a local Bart station, unattended for hours until someone brought her in. She had no chip, collar, or registration. She was at our particular shelter for a few months, and it only took two separate visits for us to know that if we didn’t bring her home, she would get adopted quick! Bringing her home was the most surreal experience because instead of worry or anxiety, I felt complete peace and joy! I felt so excited to become a dog mom! Reed could not contain his joy, he might have even shed a few happy tears. She loved riding in the car on the way home, sticking her cute ears out the window, and we learned very quickly that God heard my prayers.

A few things we are working with her on is to not put her paws on the counter or coffee table, to not pull too excitedly on the leash when we take her on walks, and to sit and wait by the front door when someone arrives at our house, instead of rushing to say hi. She immediately obeys when we tell her not to do those things, but eventually we hope she’ll learn to not do them at all. We are still learning our rhythm and schedule with her, but thankfully she is incredibly flexible, and we have countless people all around us who are just waiting to come and play with her.

Today is her first vet appointment, and along with that, we are experiencing plenty of “firsts” with her every day.

In some moments, I feel overwhelmed by the responsibility of her, hoping I’m doing this all right, but then Reed reassures me that I won’t be perfect, and we’re all still learning. What a relief to know that not only do I have permission to be imperfect and figure things out, but so does Chloe. Reed has never been happier, and lucky for him, I am a very secure woman, who doesn’t feel threatened at all by the new lady in the house ;) Truth is, we’ve all never been happier and I can’t believe how quickly I have come to adore Chloe. If you had told me even a year ago that Reed and I would rescue a pitbull, and love her immediately - I’d say, “yeah right!Just another reminder that God’s best work are the blessings we never saw coming. You can now expect to see lots of “Chloe content” on my Instagram and here on the blog, as I increasingly become another one of those annoying dog people. Converted and proud!

I’ll be sure to update you if this all ends up being a dream, but I am just convinced that God loves when his kids bank on his goodness and pray bold prayers about seemingly small things, like a pup with minimal shedding ;) Let this post be the inspiration and permission you maybe need to start praying for things your heart cares about! And don’t let the naysayers discourage you...they’ll come back around and thank you later!

How would you describe your dream dog? Let me know in the comments & drop a line if you want to read more Chloe-related posts in the future!