Anne Wheaton rescued her first animal as a child.
“He was an orange tabby who followed me home. We found out that a family had moved and left their cat behind. I couldn’t believe someone would just leave a family member like that,” she says.
In 2012, many rescues later, Anne decided to retire from her career as a hair stylist to focus full-time on animal welfare. She serves on the Pasadena Humane Society & SPCA board of directors and takes part in the annual Wiggle Waggle Walk fundraiser, for which she produces a calendar featuring her famous friends and their adopted pets. The 16th annual event takes place Sunday, with calendars shipping to donors in mid-October.
The 2015 cover features Anne, husband Wil — of The Big Bang Theory, Eureka, and Star Trek: The Next Generation fame — and cats Watson and Luna. Their son, Ryan, rescued the kitties during college but had to leave them at home when his roommate signed a lease for the coming year without asking if pets were allowed. They weren’t.
“I told him he could take them back when he graduated,” Anne says, “but by then the cats and our dogs were such good buddies he didn’t want to do that.”
The Wheatons first became involved with PHS in 2009. They had just lost their beloved Lab-Rottie mix Ferris to cancer when a flyer for the walk came in the mail.
The couple decided to participate in her honor with Riley, their other dog. A few days before the event, Riley tore a ligament in her knee. The organization asked if they would walk one of the many shelter pups available for adoption instead.
On the morning of the Wiggle Waggle Walk, Anne and Wil met Seamus, the seven-month-old Pit Bull mix they would spend the day with and soon welcome into their home.
“People were asking if he was up for adoption. I was saying yes, but after the fourth or fifth person Wil started saying, ‘Yes, but we have dibs,'” she recalls with a laugh.
“Seamus is such a great dog,” Anne adds. “Riley couldn’t play with him because of her knee so we took him to doggie daycare. He ended up becoming the one they used to evaluate new dogs.”
The couple continued to take part in the fundraiser, bringing in $13,000 to $15,000 in pledges each year from 2009 to 2012. They were visiting the shelter in August of 2012 when a worker approached them with a four-month-old Pit Bull mix found in a nearby park.
“She did a somersault onto Wil’s feet,” Anne says. “When we got home, neither of us could stop thinking about that puppy.”
A week later, Marlowe joined the family. She took part in her first Wiggle Waggle Walk the following month. Wil made a video of their three-mile-trip around the Rose Bowl, and it just about broke the internet.
With the 2012 event behind them, Anne looked ahead to the following year and decided to create a calendar they could give as a thank you to those who pledged a minimum of $40 to Team Wheaton. It would feature some of the couple’s nerdiest and funniest friends with their rescue pets.
She worked on the project for the next eight months, doing shoots both locally and elsewhere in the country with photographer Pixie Spindel. They kept the work secret so the calendar would be a surprise when announced a few weeks before the walk.
The 2014 Celebrity Pet Adoption Calendar featured Mythbusters host Adam Savage, writer/producer Rod Roddenberry and wife Heidi, and actors Seth Green, Clare Grant, Felicia Day, and Phil Lamarr, among others. Anne and Wil posed for the cover with the canine members of their family.
Team Wheaton raised $50,750 for PHS in 2013, with that amount including walk pledges as well as donations for calendars taken at events the couple attended the following month. They covered production and shipping costs through their Foundation to Increase Awesome, so that all of the money could go directly to the organization.
PHS provides food, shelter, and medical care for nearly 12,000 animals each year. It opened year a new animal care center in January that includes a spay/neuter clinic, doggie daycare, behavior training center, and store. Marlowe stepped in front of the camera again, with Seamus joining her, to show off the new facility.
Famous friends appearing in the 2015 calendar include The Big Bang Theory‘s Kaley Cuoco, Guardians of the Galaxy writer/director James Gunn, Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s Gates McFadden, comedian Margaret Cho, Battlestar Galactica‘s Tricia Helfer, and author Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess.
“We have had so much fun,” Anne says of the last two years creating the calendar. “Pixie’s super at capturing emotion with people. You can really see the connection between the person and their pet, how much they love each other.”
Check out a behind-the-scenes video of the photo shoots:
To pledge Team Wheaton in the Wiggle Waggle Walk and receive a 2015 Celebrity Pet Adoption Calendar, visit the Pasadena Humane Society website. To see another of Anne’s projects to raise animal adoption awareness, visit her rescuepetsareawesome.tumblr.com. You can also follow Anne on Twitter.
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