Sometimes you find love in the most unexpected places.

Last fall, when the Owen family attended SubieStock, an annual concert at Peacock Subaru benefiting Palmetto Animal League’s no-kill rescue efforts, little did they know their lives were about to change.

That night the Hilton Head family met Kelly, who was rescued by PAL from a shelter that euthanizes for space. With two cats at home, also adopted through PAL, they decided it was the perfect time to add the year-old lab mix to their family.

The Owens had seen Kelly a week prior at the PAL Adoption Center in Okatie. They went home to think about it but, as they say, the heart wants what the heart wants.

“She was the happiest dog I’d ever seen,” said 17-year old Caitlin. “I had to have her!”

So, Kelly became Pumpkin and left SubieStock to go live forever with the Owens.

“PAL was a lifeline for Pumpkin. It was important to us that she not slip through the cracks,” said Amy Campanini, PAL president. “Then the Owen family came along and there was an instant love connection. When the right family walks through the door, these dogs sense it.”

In most stories about animal rescue, the adoption alone would be the fairy-tale ending. But Pumpkin and her new family were about to embark on yet another adventure.

A few months after taking Pumpkin home, Lynn Owen was contacted by PAL development coordinator Stephanie Bashaw. She told him that Subaru of America wanted to showcase one of its retailers for participation in the company’s “Love Promise” campaign.

Peacock Subaru was selected to be part of a national commercial promoting Puppy Bowl XV and Pumpkin’s adoption story was the perfect example of how the local dealership’s efforts are making a difference.

“Subaru of America noticed our partnership with Palmetto Animal League,” said Jill Jauch, marketing and advertising manager with Peacock Automotive. “We are thrilled to be able to help PAL place homeless pets with families through our adoption events. Subaru loves dogs, so it’s a great relationship.”

Come December, the Owen family – Lynn, Sarah, Caitlyn, Colin and Pumpkin – found themselves at Peacock Subaru surrounded by lights, cameras and puppies. Their story became part of a 60-second vignette that ran on Animal Planet prior to last Sunday’s Puppy Bowl, where it was seen by several million viewers. The video, which was posted on Animal Planet’s Facebook page, had over 22,000 views in the first 24 hours.

“We were very excited to be picked for the commercial,” said Lynn Owen. “We had a great time shooting it and it was interesting to see, firsthand, how commercials are made.”

Pumpkin, who unapologetically enjoyed all the belly rubs and attention she received during the filming, seems to be taking her new-found fame in stride. For her, it was always about finding a loving home.

Caitlyn Owen summed it up best: “When we brought Pumpkin home, our family was complete. It just felt really right.”

Terry Bergeron is a local writer and a volunteer for Palmetto Animal League.