Ready for Their Close-Up: Star Dogs
Lying on the floor of a photo studio, Cynthia Miller is trying to get Lulu's attention. Her colleague holds the 5-1/2-pound Maltese from behind a seamless gray backdrop, his hands clad in black gloves to simulate a skydiving harness. "Lulu!" calls Miller, holding out a tiny piece of chicken. Her photographer snaps shot after shot while a floor fan blows Lulu's floppy ears. After two minutes the dog's miniature goggles come loose and Lulu has had enough. Where's that chicken?
This was not what Miller, 41, a self-described "serious kid," thought she'd be doing with her Harvard BA and her law degree. And by day, Miller is indeed engaged in more buttoned-down activities -- she and husband Dean Rindy run a political media and communications firm, Rindy Miller Media, in Austin, Texas. But on nights and weekends Miller and her creative team have been moonlighting, shooting pictures for "Lulu & Lolly's Road Trip," a zany calendar starring Miller's pet Malteses.
In the calendar the dogs are portrayed as filching their owners' credit cards from the sock drawer and taking off on a year of adventure, checking in each month to chronicle their escapades in charmingly misspelled postcards. After they indulge in sky diving, river rafting, and snowboarding, a Manhattan shopping spree maxes out their credit limit and forces them to return home.
"It was slow going at first," says Miller, whose media projects usually involve wrangling politicians in business suits, not fluffy white creatures sporting life vests or snowboarding gear. "Lulu is so bossy and free-spirited that she played her spastic role easily, and Lolly is really good at giving the kind of look she gives, which is slightly put-off but willing to go along."
The fact that Lolly is willing to go along at all is perhaps the most amazing part of this project. Lolly is the real poster canine for the calendar, which benefits rescue animals. Miller first laid eyes on the dog nine years ago when she dropped by the city-owned animal shelter to make a donation of blankets and dog biscuits. The shelter had just confiscated more than 140 dogs from a woman who had kept them confined to rabbit cages. All were traumatized and many were malnourished, dirty, and sick. Miller immediately signed on to help get the animals cleaned up and adopted.
During that time Miller took special notice of Lolly. "She looked so unhealthy I thought nobody would adopt her," Miller recalls. The 1-year-old dog had experienced so much trauma and neglect that her white fur had turned pale yellow, both ears had severe infections and she was terribly underweight, with "a huge head and a shrunken body."