Ready for Their Close-Up: Star Dogs
Becoming a Family
Lolly appeared to take special notice of Miller, too. "Every time I came in, Lolly would run to the front of her cage, paw at the air, and look at me with these enormous chocolate eyes." But after about a month the young dog seemed to give up. "I came to the shelter and Lolly was lying in her cage. She didn't respond when I crouched down to talk to her and I knew she was beyond depressed. That's when I decided to adopt her." Miller already had a young Maltese, Lulu, and she thought she and Lolly would be good playmates.
But making the adopted dog part of the family was a long, agonizing process. "Lolly was an emotional wreck," Miller says. She yelped when touched, peed when startled, and instead of walking normally she scuttled," Miller says. "For five years she would make a beeline under the bed every night after dinner," Miller says. But with Miller's and Rindy's love and with Lulu as what Miller describes as a "relentlessly cheerful" sidekick, Lolly healed, both physically and emotionally.
After Hurricane Katrina Miller decided she wanted to do something to help abandoned dogs. She allowed her imagination to roam, dreaming up secret lives for her pets. Miller's musings led to the idea for the calendar, done over two years of evenings and weekends. "Lulu & Lolly's Road Trip" debuted at the Texas Book Festival in late 2006 and was so successful that Miller was able to make a four-figure contribution to the shelter where she'd found Lolly. A publisher has purchased the idea for a 2009 calendar, and Miller's now writing a novel starring the dogs. Meanwhile, the Lulu and Lolly Web site (www.luluandlolly.com) entertains visitors with their wacky adventures and sells souvenirs, with proceeds going to animal shelters.
Miller credits her dogs' sunny, mischievous personalities with helping her tap into her "funny, goofy side." She says she also learned more about herself by taking in a rescue dog. "It felt good to know that I had the capacity to be that gentle and patient and kind. I got involved in politics because I believed in the importance of making an impact. But by reaching out and helping an animal like Lolly one-on-one, I learned how powerful that connection is."
Now that Lolly has learned to trust and love, Miller need only stand by the big sofa in the comfortable living room of their Spanish-style home and announce, "It's family night!" That's everybody's cue to gather round to watch television together, a ritual the dogs love almost as much as car trips.
Originally published in Ladies' Home Journal, June 2008.