Family of Five!!!

maverick 2

This wasn’t an easy decision for us.

We didn’t need another toddler to chase around.
Or incessant crying throughout the night. 
Or to worry about choking hazards again.
Or have more poo to clean up.

Most days, by 7:00 pm, we’re hanging on by a thread.
Happy and grateful, sure.
But entirely exhausted and sometimes even defeated–counting down the minutes to bed time prayer and night night.
We simply couldn’t handle an added element of chaos in our lives.

So to throw a puppy into the mix…
That had not been in the cards for us.
No way. Nope. Nada.
We would not be a dog family.
So we said…

And then something happened. Unexpectedly, as is usually the case.
I was praying. For Wesley. For some guidance. For a way to help him connect. For an opportunity for him to express and receive love without the associated anxiety he can’t help but feel.  I prayed that an opportunity of unconditional love would present itself to our family.  Maybe it would be a special friend, or a teacher, or a therapist–whoever it would be, I knew we needed someone by our side in this journey, someone with an alternate perspective.  I just didn’t know who. So I prayed. And prayed. And prayed.

We were eating Mickey Mouse pancakes at our favorite breakfast cafe early one Saturday morning when  my heart told me that my prayer had been answered.

Wes: Mommy, mommy, mommy!
Wesley was pulling excitedly at my sleeve, forcing my ear close to his mouth.
Wes: Mommy, I have to tell you a secret.
Me: Yes Wes? I’m listening.
Wes: That’s the puppy from my dream.
He pointed over to a labradoodle laying down under a table while his family enjoyed their breakfast.
Me: What do you mean Wes?
Wes: That doggy was in my dream.  He was licking my ears and I liked it.

My arms filled with goosebumps and I shot Ben a look that said “are you hearing this?”.
I’ve told you guys a bit about Wes in this post, but for the purposes of this story you should know that Wesley’s most sensory “sensitive” areas are his ears. He doesn’t like loud noises. He doesn’t like his ears to be touched. He doesn’t like getting his hair cut around his ears. And he certainly doesn’t let them get wet. So for a puppy to be licking his ears in a dream–well, I took that as a sign.

Me: Wesley, who does the puppy from your dream belong to?
Wes: He’s mine. Can we keep him?
He gave us his dimpled smile and shoved more pancake into his mouth, not taking his eyes off the puppy. I looked up at Ben, giving him the do-you-realize-what-just-happened look. He shook his head with a nervous smile and then laughed.  I laughed too, because of course we weren’t getting a dog…

But because I’m curious by nature and I sometimes like to play the “what if” game, I went home and did a few google searches.  A few google searches turned into several hours of research that night–which turned into weeks of additional research–which resulted in me feeling convinced that a dog had the potential to give Wes the additional unconditional love and connection he needed.  This could really help. Although he was a bit hesitant, I was able to get Ben on board.  Wesley talked about the “puppy from his dream” every day, and the more he shared about how much he loved that puppy, the more Ben’s heart started to soften.

Ben: Okay. Okay. But it has to be the RIGHT dog for us.

Ben’s affirmation was just the excuse I needed to let my “crazy” kick into gear.  I became obsessed with the quest for our family dog. I had my heart set on an adult rescue. My obsession turned into dozens of rescue/adoption applications completed, two in-home interviews, at least 50 inquiries about specific adult dogs up for adoption, serious research about service and therapy dogs, the uncovering of a few online scams, in person visits with several dogs, an impulsive decision to buy a pup from craigslist that we had never met followed by a bout of realization that I was acting emotionally and not rationally….and nearly three months later we still hadn’t found our new family member.

We hadn’t realized how rare it can be for a family with such young children to be approved to rescue a dog–and even rarer still for a dog that is good with young children to become available for rescue.  Apparently, the demand for rescue dogs that are good with kids is very high in our area–which is actually great news for these pups in need of a FURever home. But I felt discouraged about our chances, like a dog might not happen for our family.

A few months into our search and I continued my prayers.  And as often happens when I seek answers with a prayerful heart…my feelings of discouragement were replaced with courage.  The idea of a puppy had scared me. I was looking for an adult dog that could transition into our family, not a puppy who would wreak havoc over our home. But the more I pondered and researched, the more my gut told me that a puppy could teach our boys countless invaluable life lessons–life lessons that would be worth the added work.  Ben and I went over the pros and cons and after we laid it all out on the table we realized we felt brave enough to raise a puppy along side our boys.  We put our search for an adult rescue dog on hold and began looking for a young puppy. I’ll spare you the countless details of our new quest and just tell you that our search eventually led us to Maverick. Sweet, sweet Maverick.  The moment we saw him we knew.  He had been waiting for us–I have no doubt of this.

Maverick is a mini labradoodle.  He is 4 months old and he will get about 30 pounds when fully grown.  He loves to have his ears scratched, is already getting the hang of “sit”, and is ever-so-patient with the boys.  This pup is a bundle of happiness! And although he has had a couple of poopy accidents and he loves to chew up my nice rug, he has already brought so much joy and hope and peace to our family.  You guys, I can’t even believe how much I love him.  And Wesley, oh Wesley–he is positively smitten–their connection is undeniable.  Maverick sits on Wesley’s lap on the way to school every day, falls asleep with him at night and serves as an ice breaker for Wes when meeting new people.  It’s safe to say Maverick is the puppy from his dreams. And I’m so excited to continue to share more adventures with the latest member of our family! photo 1
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photo 2

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maverick 9
maverick labradoodle

maverick labradoodle 6
sawyer dog bowl
all the boys
maverick 10

maverick 11

maverick 12

maverick 7

maverick 8

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  • Reply
    July 10, 2014 at 3:08 am

    Such a precious post! I immediately forgive you for your absence from posting!!!! I’m so happy for all of you, and especially for Wes – they will grow to be the best of friends. Our little pug is 9 now and has grown up with my children as well and the experience is amazing.
    Do you follow mommasgonecity on instagram? You should – the pictures of her youngest and their puppy bonding and napping together are a daily way to make your heart melt.

    Also, did you know that your new dog has great hips! Dogs who are not properly bred often have trouble laying flat out the way that Maverick is laying in the pictures on the front porch. Yay for good hips!

    • Reply
      July 10, 2014 at 9:40 am

      Good to know that my little CeeCee was properly bred as well, bc she ALWAYS lays that way. Neat info to know.

  • Reply
    July 10, 2014 at 3:28 am

    What a nice story! Sounds like the perfect fit for you and your family (especially your son).

  • Reply
    July 10, 2014 at 3:41 am

    Wonderful news about Maverick! The pictures of him and Wes are so cute!!!

  • Reply
    July 10, 2014 at 3:48 am

    Maverick and the boys are cute as can be! Glad you are starting crate training early. I wish I had done that! A few tips for new pups should you still need them. 1) They cry from loneliness – they are pack animals and aren’t used to being alone. Try putting an old pillow that has your smell on it in the crate (great reasoning to get new 😉 pillows!). They find the “smell” comforting. Also, try 1″ jingle bells tied on a ribbon at paw height hanging from the doorknob of the door which you want him to go out to potty. Take him over, hit the bells with his paw, scoop him up, take him out and give him a treat. He’ll soon be hitting the bells to let you know that he has to go out and as soon as the behavior is “learned” you can phase out the treats. I hope you all get many years of happiness from sweet Maverick – like having the boys – your life will never be the same!

    • Reply
      July 10, 2014 at 9:43 am

      Great idea on the bell. I might do something like that with my 9 year old little lady. She is the most silent dog ever when she has to go out. She just goes and stands by the door, so if you don’t see her…uh oh.

  • Reply
    July 10, 2014 at 3:52 am

    This post just made my heart so happy! Thank you for sharing. So happy for your boys and your sweet new pup. 🙂

  • Reply
    Allison Wilhelm
    July 10, 2014 at 3:57 am

    A mini dood!?! The dog of his dreams!?! So precious!!! Having a puppy will bring so much love and happiness into your family. Picking out our goldendoodle pup before my husband deployed was the best thing that could have happened to me. In a snap, I went from not-a-dog-person to I have two big dogs (our other is a German Shepherd/Husky rescue) and love every second of it!

    I’ve been coveting this sign on Etsy, and now you can, too!

  • Reply
    July 10, 2014 at 5:16 am

    Just when I thought your family couldn’t get any cuter!!!! I totally want a mini-goldendoodle, both for my son who is on the autism spectrum, and for ME – a permanent three year old who does not need to be raised to be independent (aka, will never leave me!!). I’m having a hard time convincing my husband too, but I’m biding my time….

  • Reply
    July 10, 2014 at 5:22 am

    This is such a sweet story. It’s amazing what dogs can do for us. They aren’t just pets. Also love how he sits behind Wes’ head in the car. My puppy has the sme habit. She also has chewed on 2 of my rugs. Frustrating but gotta love them. Enjoy all the fun memories with the new puppy.

  • Reply
    July 10, 2014 at 5:31 am

    Love this post! It brought tears to my eyes. I love my doberman like I love my own children. It’s amazing how dogs touch a part of your heart that you didn’t even know existed. Your kids will love growing up with Maverick 😉

  • Reply
    [email protected]
    July 10, 2014 at 5:31 am

    AW, this was such a great story with a happy ending. Maverick is simply adorable and so glad to hear your prayers and more over that Wesley’s prayers were answered!! Maverick is ADORABLE and I can totally relate to the fear of them taking over your home. We got a lab a year ago and named him Maverick also and he has blown through shoes and rugs, toys and my 3 kiddos couldn’t love him more. Your lil’ guy is sure to be packed full of fun stories and memories to come!!

  • Reply
    Newlyweds on a Budget
    July 10, 2014 at 5:40 am

    you’re now a dog mama! congrats! they are wonderful!

  • Reply
    Miranda M
    July 10, 2014 at 6:24 am

    I’m not sure if you posted it somewhere (I’ve been following you since Wes was a baby) but how did you end up looking and finding the therapist Wes needed? My 2 year old daughter has a really hard time when she gets over stimulated. She’s great at communicating, functions amazingly but will just get angry quickly. Then she goes back to this loves life attitude. I’m just weary of taking her somewhere that will give her the stigma of something negative instead of ways to work with her talents and alternatives for those situations that set her off. Sorry for the ramble and life story, but my 2 year old LOVES puppies too and your story touched my mama heart.

  • Reply
    July 10, 2014 at 7:03 am

    I’m in love!!! We have a 9 month old golden retreiver. I LOVE him to death. It’s unbelievable how a dog can love so unconditionally and teach a family so much. My heart smiles to hear Maverick loving on Wes and making him a happy little guy. Dogs are so intuitive. You are so inspiring – praying for your family and trusting in God’s plan and timing. 🙂

  • Reply
    July 10, 2014 at 7:28 am

    Oh my goodness, the last post about your son choked me up, but this one made me cry happy tears. I am a special ed teacher for students with Autism and have seen the miracles that happen when our therapy dogs come to visit weekly. What a lovely addition to your beautiful family, Ashley.

  • Reply
    July 10, 2014 at 7:30 am

    Oh I am so happy for you and your family. I have always had dogs. I had a German Shepherd growing up. Pets can teach you responsibility but most of all love, unconditional love no questions asked kind of love. You will see Maverick will provide you love, love and more love! He will do wonders for Wes. Help with confidence and esteem, how to love, responsibility and friendship. I was so happy you went the puppy route although there are countless dogs who need good homes…for you a puppy was the best choice.
    I can’t wait to see and hear more about Maverick! Good luck!!

  • Reply
    Carson Elaine
    July 10, 2014 at 9:34 am

    This post just warms my heart – it is such a special bond when you find the dog for your family. Cherish every moment, good and bad!

  • Reply
    July 10, 2014 at 9:55 am

    Oh my goodness. the 4th pic of Mav and Wes gave me goosebumps bc Mav is totally licking his ear, right? It was totally his dream.

    • Reply
      Ashley Stock
      July 10, 2014 at 11:04 am

      YES! He is totally licking his ear!!!! xoxo

  • Reply
    Julie C
    July 10, 2014 at 10:00 am

    Yay Ashley! I love this post and I’m so happy for Wesley!!!

  • Reply
    July 10, 2014 at 10:19 am

    This is so adorable. I think I could have written this post. I would love to hear more about how it goes with a new puppy in your house and how training goes. I’m very nervous about adding a puppy to our home but I also feel like it could be amazing, too!

  • Reply
    July 10, 2014 at 10:44 am

    As a dog person and not ever having gone without a dog in my life, I think this is a great thing for Wes and all of you! Have fun integrating your new family member! Such great memories ahead!

  • Reply
    July 10, 2014 at 10:54 am

    Ashley–what a sweet story. I hope Maverick brings years of happiness to your cute family!!!

  • Reply
    July 10, 2014 at 11:47 am

    Look at Maverick right next to W’s ears! I’m so happy for you guys. Enjoy all of the cuddles and unconditional love that dogs give!

  • Reply
    July 10, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    Maverick is actually licking Wesley’s ears..just like in his dream! Oh the joy on Wesley’s face. That is precious. I love how Sawyer is doing all that Maverick does. Adorable.

  • Reply
    Natalie Thompson
    July 10, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    Oh my goodness…this just melts my heart. I am a stay at home mom from Utah and one day while browsing Pinterest I happened on to a how to do big beachy curls tutorial (or something like that) on your blog. Little did I know how much I was going to fall in love with your adorable family just reading through your amazing posts. You are such an inspiration with so much faith and such a talented writer. Love love love that darling puppy.. What a blessing for your son and family. Keep up the great work! The world needs more mothers like you ❤️

  • Reply
    July 10, 2014 at 3:06 pm

    This post brought tears to my eyes. To hear about the joy you and W have found and the power of prayer! I love every bit of it!

  • Reply
    July 10, 2014 at 9:42 pm

    What a sweet story and a very sweet and happy looking puppy and son! LOVE this!

  • Reply
    July 10, 2014 at 9:51 pm

    This may be weird but in the next year or two you should try for just one more baby! I have a feeling it will be a girl! That way she will have three bodyguards(two full time) and you will have a personal mini fashionista!!!

  • Reply
    Rebecca @ My Girlish Whims
    July 11, 2014 at 12:09 am

    We have a mini golden doodle – he’s about 40 pounds and we just LOVE him! We don’t have kids yet so he is our baby. Such a sweet breed, so glad you found the perfect furry friend for your family 🙂

  • Reply
    July 11, 2014 at 5:21 am

    I loved this post when I saw the smiles on Wes face. Hopefully this will be the answer to all of your prayers. Thanks for sharing this beautiful story. Can’t wait for the next step in his recovery.

    God bless

  • Reply
    July 11, 2014 at 9:18 pm

    This is wonderful news! I’ve been thinking about you all since your post about Wesley. It sounds like many prayers have been answered. Congrats on Maverick!

  • Reply
    Melissa Hollister
    July 15, 2014 at 10:53 pm

    Oh my gosh! What an adorable little addition to your family! Congrats! @ashley- would you mind sharing the details of Maverick? Is he an Australian Labradoodle? I have been looking for a breeder. Would love to add a 5th member to our family as well.

  • Reply
    July 16, 2014 at 1:24 am

    Three years ago we adopted a rescue puppy (Lab mix) primarily for my now 13 year old son who has autism. The connection between them has been such a blessing to my son. Something else we started this past year for him is therapeutic horseback riding. It has been almost magical. It is truly amazing the number of skills (sensory, motor, focus, etc.) that this one activity can address. The interaction between the child and the horse is really something special! Perhaps you may want to give it a try for your son someday. Best wishes!

  • Reply
    Cheri @ Overactive Blogger
    July 16, 2014 at 9:31 am

    How adorable! I have a little grey poodle mix and she is the love of my life. As an adult, I struggle with anxiety, and she has just brought so much joy to my life. Congrats on your addition!

  • Reply
    Jana (Ashes and Lace)
    July 16, 2014 at 9:37 am

    Ok why am I crying after reading this post?!?! It’s crazy how a dog truly becomes a part of your family. – a converted dog owner

  • Reply
    Terin Garrett
    July 18, 2014 at 2:09 am

    Oh my goodness! He is absolutely precious!! I never thought I wanted a dog for our family either – three kids was PLENTY! But when a friend of mine’s dogs accidentally had another liter and they offered me a super cheap deal, I couldn’t resist… and Bob totally completed our family! I couldn’t imagine not having him now!

  • Reply
    ashley ozuna
    July 18, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    I must tell you that I read this post last night and just had to come back and read it again. It brought tears to my eyes for a a couple of different reasons…Just picturing your little guy so stoked about this puppy in his dreams, a new best friend….I am oozing with excitement for him! Second of all, I retracted back to the post all about Wes and he sounds so rad! What an awesome little being he is!! My oldest of my 4 children is abit of the same way, a very gentle guy, but doesnt quite know how to express himself at times, he gets quite nervous in fornt of people he does not know and at school….us moms just worry, its in our nature…I sometimes look at my husband like something is wrong with him because he doesnt express the same concern or perhaps sensitivity, but I realize it keeps me grounded and focused. You’ve got an extra friend here if you need one! xoxox ~Ashley

  • Reply
    July 18, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    Hey, just wanted to say congrats on the pup! He’s adorable. I don’t want to sound weird but I saw you the other night at Tifa. I wanted to come up and tell you I follow your blog but you seemed busy with your friend. Anywho, hi!


  • Reply
    July 19, 2014 at 5:01 am

    This post makes me so gleefully happy! We adopted our fur baby last October (for our five year anniversary gift!) and although it’s a challenge everyday to keep up with her energy; we couldn’t be happier. Our babe is a bit larger (about 60lbs) but just the absolute sweetest. I look forward to the day when we have actual babies that she can bond with because she’s already in love with kids of any kind.
    It makes my heart happy that Wesley and Sawyer have this sweet companion and hearing Wesley’s story is just the very best.
    Can’t wait to see even more journeys you take together.
    Oh and ps. Sawyer is looking JUST LIKE YOU the older he gets. I always thought Wesley looked like your husband but Sawyer is ALL YOU. Love it.


  • Reply
    shannon J
    July 19, 2014 at 1:52 pm

    I have been reading your blog for a very long time. This about the sweetest story I have ever heard. Congrats on the dog. He is adorable. Great picture of boys and dogs.

  • Reply
    Amber M
    July 21, 2014 at 5:40 am

    This is such a sweet post! Maverick looks like an adorable pup and what a cute pair him and Wesley make. I have the same thinking that I don’t need a dog or pet in my life with 3 kids but this story just melted my heart. What an unexpected answer to prayers 🙂

  • Reply
    July 21, 2014 at 6:13 am

    You are the best mama Ashley!! Your boys are ridiculously handsome and this was such a wise decision! The pics melted my heart!!!

  • Reply
    July 21, 2014 at 11:00 pm

    Ashley, I connected so much to this post of yours. I wanted to share a story with you because I soooo know where you are coming from with this. My youngest daughter, 8 years old, was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (specifically Asperger’s syndrome) 6 months ago, although I have known for 7 years that something was ‘not right’ and knew in my heart and head that this was the issue. She is extremely sensory – noises, too much activity surrounding her, large groups of people, sometimes tactile. her issue is more social than anything else (unless she was in an uncomfortable situation, you wouldn’t know she had any issue at all. If she is, you know it for sure). She’s a work in progress. We rescued our terrier mix and this sweet ball of fur has transformed her so much. He gives her confidence, opens her up to (an easier) conversation and helps her to connect with others around her, puts a smile on her face and eases her stresses. He is a great form of therapy for her. I always think this… have we rescued him or has he helped to rescue her? Either way, it’s a win-win. Congratulations to your family!

  • Reply
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    July 24, 2014 at 3:42 am

    Brought me to tears. The joy in their eyes says it all. What a testament of faith and courage. Thank you for continuing to do hard things, so that I know I can too.

    xoxo, Misty

  • Reply
    July 26, 2014 at 1:42 pm

    Love this story! Question. I was wondering If you would be able to send me the breeders website.

  • Reply
    Michelle Parrott
    July 27, 2014 at 1:17 am

    oh man! my lilly girl (black lab) is just over 10yrs old and my kids are going to be SO heart broken when she leaves us 🙁 and that pup you have right there is freaking adorable!!!! you may have just got me obsessed lol

  • Reply
    July 27, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    What a lovely story about Wes and his puppy. The love between them shines through. I enjoyed reading about their adventures.

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