How A Photo Changed Lives

There was something about the photo that Malinda couldn’t get out of her head.   Maybe it was the resemblance to one of her own rescue pups that tugged at her heart or maybe it was just the fact that these two sisters had been unceremoniously dropped at animal control by their former owner without so much as a good-bye.

Whatever it was, it ate at her all day.  She shared the photo with everyone she knew and begged them to please spring the pups named Lulu and Hazel from an uncertain fate at the Baltimore County Animal Shelter.   No one was in a position to take them and the same held true for her.  Malinda and her spouse already had three puppy mill survivors, and three rescue kitties – two of them with FIV.  There was no way they could rationally bring two more pups into an already full house.  Of course, the operative word was “rationally.”  Logic rarely applies when your heart takes the wheel.

Malinda was no stranger to animal rescue.  Each of the kitties in her and her extended families’ homes had all been found dumped like garbage at offices, parking lots and stores.  She’d always been able to find homes for needy kitties so decided she’d do the same with these two pups.  After contacting Cindy Chikar-Hagan of Black Dogs & Company Rescue for crates, advice and moral support, she made her way to the shelter to fill out adoption papers and seal the deal.

For the next few months, Malinda and her partner adhered to a schedule that would make the Army proud.  Every hour of the day and night was organized to ensure that Lulu and Hazel had uninterrupted feeding, walking, playing and cuddling time without taking away from – or fraternizing with – the three pups already in residence.  When a Pennsylvania couple fell madly in love and adopted Hazel, Malinda and her spouse decided Lulu wasn’t going anywhere.  So what if it meant four dogs and three cats?  Lulu was home.

We wish that were the end of the story, but life is never that simple.  Although Lulu can’t tell us about her past, the indications are that abuse played a major part.  From day one, she was terrified of males and although she’d cower around the two-legged kind, the four-legged variety turned her into the aggressor.  Not willing to give up, Malinda sought the help of a local trainer and “dog whisperer.”  It was during one of those training sessions that disaster struck and when it did, Lulu’s brother, Einstein, was rushed to Pet ER in a desperate bid to save his life.

In the weeks that followed, amid tears and broken hearts, Malinda and her partner acknowledged the inevitable – for the safety and psychological well being of Einstein, Lulu had to be re-homed.  Ideally, that home would be one that was free of males, the human or the pup variety.  In a community where there aren’t enough homes available for all the dogs and cats that need them, it was a tall order to fill – a tall order, but as it turned out, one that had been right under their noses all along.   Earlier this summer, Malinda’s mom adopted Lulu and she is now living large as the only pup in a family of five kitties.  She has the couch to herself, often enjoys scrambled eggs and cheese for breakfast and is loved by all her moms.  This month marks a year since the day Malinda saw a photo – a photo that changed the lives of two throwaway dogs and three very grateful families.

Every day in shelters around the country, volunteer photographers strive to capture the personalities of our society’s throwaway dogs and cats in the hopes that someone will open their hearts and their homes.   We salute them all, but want to specially thank Meredith Brown – if it weren’t for her, Lulu and Hazel would be statistics today instead of much-loved and valued family members of the Show Your Soft Side team.