Ahead of this amazing-sounding dog day of summer, PEOPLE talked to Upton about her new life in Houston, why this event is important to her and whatâ€™s next for her and Verlander.
How did this event first get started?
My whole family and I are huge dog lovers. Iâ€™ve grown up with rescue dogs all my life. After lots of visits to the animal shelter in my hometown, I was really inspired to host an event and raise awareness for the amazing dogs that needed homes!
What is the goal of this event?
The goal of the Grand Slam Adoption Event is to raise awareness for dog adoption, and to raise funds for dogs to be rescued from shelters and then trained as service animals for military veterans.
Why is this event important to you and Justin?
This event combines multiple passions of both Justin and mine. First, weâ€™re both passionate dog lovers and have grown up with rescue animals. Also, weâ€™re huge supporters of the military and veteran community. Justin started a charity called Wins for Warriors Foundation which focuses on serving those who serve this Country. The ability to work together to rescue dogs and to support military veterans is extremely important to us.
How has it changed over the years?
Weâ€™re on our 4thÂ annual year of the Grand Slam Adoption Event, and I couldnâ€™t be more excited about how itâ€™s progressed and grown. Each year, weâ€™re able to raise awareness and funds for adoptable dogs. This year, weâ€™ve partnered with an incredible dog trainer, and all funds raised will go to a program to rescue dogs from shelters to train them to be service animals for military veterans.
Are there any new things you are looking forward to since it is in HoustonÂ this year?
Iâ€™m thrilled to host the event for the first time in Houston. Itâ€™s now been a year after Hurricane Harvey devastated the area, and there are still a lot of dogs who are in need of homes. Justin and I want to do our part to help that happen.
How can those who canâ€™t attend participate?
Why is pet adoption important to you?
Itâ€™s important for me to raise awareness about pet adoption because there are so many animals in need of homes. No matter what youâ€™re looking for in a family pet, there are all ages, sizes, breeds, and mannerisms to choose from. Why not look at saving a life first?
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How has the move to Houston been overall?
Justin and I love Houston and have felt incredibly welcome. I canâ€™t believe itâ€™s almost been a year!
How has your dog adjusted to the move?
Our dog Harley is doing great with the move but wishes it werenâ€™t so hot in the summer!
Did your love for animals factor into your relationship?
It certainly didnâ€™t hurt! I donâ€™t think either of us could be with someone who doesnâ€™t love dogs!
What do you and your pets have planned for the future outside of this event?
Justin, Harley, and I are expanding our family soon â€¦ so who knows, maybe weâ€™ll expand our dog family sometime soon as well!