Megan Blake, a talented actress and producer, credits her dog Smiley, along with her many other four-footed companions, for teaching her some important life lessons.
Megan Blake has accomplished a lot in her life. She won the Miss Georgia crown back in 1983, and during her acting career has worked with major Hollywood names such as Elizabeth Taylor, Lisa Kudrow and Christina Ricci. It’s clear she has always loved performing. But she has another love that dates back as far as she can remember – a passion for animals.
“I was born into the world with a great empathy and love for animals,” Megan Blake explains. That attraction went beyond dogs and cats to embrace just about every type of creature. “We’d be driving and I’d see a cow or horse in a field and say ‘I want it!’ I was drawn to every animal I saw.”
Megan’s parents were supportive, even though they didn’t share her passion. When she was five years old, however, they took her to the local Humane Society to choose a cat. “That was Kitty Boo Boo, my first soul mate. She was my constant companion, and I felt we had a deep communication.”
Getting her first animal companion only caused Megan to want more, and Blackie the cocker spaniel came along. Then, when she was nine years old, she got every little girl’s Christmas wish: “I woke up in the morning, and there was a pony in the yard.”
While Megan Blake connected deeply with her cat and dog, Silkie the pony took things to the next level. “I’ve always had a belief that animals are healers and teachers,” she explains. “Silkie taught me great lessons in patience and responsibility. Blackie and Kitty Boo Boo were my basic lessons, and Silkie was advanced studies.”
Today, Megan is still learning from animals and witnessing their healing powers, and she’s also an active adoption advocate. She currently has dogs, a cat and horses, all of which are rescues.
One of her more recent teachers was Angel, a German shepherd puppy that had been labeled as “berserk”. The gangly pup was returned to a shelter by three families, but Megan had already
learned from her animal companions that things aren’t always what they seem. The shelter inadvertently gave her paperwork with the previous families’ contact information, so she was able to get some background on the dog. Angel had been abandoned in the desert with her ears taped up, most likely unwanted because her ears didn’t stand. All three of her previous homes were filled with kids and chaos, and Megan realized she was a nervous, sensitive dog who needed calmness and structure.
Angel was well behaved but would go into phases of panic. Megan tied her nearby while she was working and praised Angel when the dog was calm, but ignored her when she acted out. “I kept her by me for 48 hours, but that behavior was gone within 24. All this dog needed was groundedness, structure, and a strong pack coach.” Today, the “berserk” shepherd works as a therapy animal.
Smiley the Star
Megan Blake wanted a friend for Angel and visited a shelter in West LA where she was drawn to a big mutt with an unflappable manner. “All the other dogs were jumping, barking and howling, and he was just sitting there, not engaged in any of it,” she says. “I asked him: ‘Are you my dog?’ was like he said, ‘Yep.’”
The dog was on hold for 20 days because his family had abandoned but not formally relinquished him. Megan visited him frequently during that time, and she noticed others doing
the same. “On the day he was released for adoption, I got there at 7:30 in the morning, before the gates opened. I was totally nervous, biting my fingernails, like a teen waiting for rock concert
tickets to go on sale.” Megan was first in the door, beating out two other families who were also taken by the dog’s charisma.
She named the dog Smiley, and others noticed his charm, too. “Angel is beautiful, but when I’d attend dog events and be going down the red carpet, Smiley was right in front with his big smile, and people gravitated to him, while Angel was in back, looking polite.” As an actress herself, Megan realized Smiley had a special spark.
The “happy campaign”
As it turned out, Smiley had a big life lesson in store for Megan Blake. “One day, while we were watching one of those sad pet adoption commercials, Smiley stuck his face in mine, stared in my eyes, and said: ‘This is terrible, we need a happy campaign’. I started hearing this song in my head and put it on a tape recorder. I thought it would make a great flash mob campaign and Smiley stepped up to be the spokesdog. He gives me great ideas to energize animal adoption.” The Super Smiley Flash Mob for Pet Adoption was born.
The flash mob proved wildly popular, and soon people started requesting performances at their events. But Megan and Smiley’s success was temporarily marred by a personal tragedy when her mother passed away. “It was devastating, and I was immobilized,” Megan says. It was Smiley the healer who finally lifted her from her grief. “He walked up to my face and said ‘We need to start again.’”
The Super Smiley Flash Mob was soon on its way across the country, from Arizona and California to Florida and New York City, promoting animal adoption wherever it went. This was followed by a series of YouTube videos that led to an award winning documentary, Super Smiley Flash Mob – A Dogumentary. You can also hear Megan and Smiley on Pet Life Radio in the popular podcast “A Super Smiley Adventure”. Last year, Megan and Smiley were honored for their show with a Genesis Awards Honorable Mention. He is also serving as official spokesdog for the 2013 AHA Hero Dog Awards.
While Smiley is the big animal star in the family, Toot Suite the Travel Kitty has also made an impact. Megan found the bony little stray when visiting her father at a nursing home in North Carolina. She scooped him up and “the communication fell into place. A voice said: ‘You have a travel kitty.’ It was clear as day.” At the time, Megan was hosting Animal Attractions TV, a PBS lifestyle series for animal lovers, and the kitten, who she dubbed Tout Suite, became her co-star, traveling with her while she gave her viewers kitty care and travel tips.
While Megan has shared her life with many animals of different types and personalities, they all share a common trait. “They all have a mission, something to teach and share,” she says. “My own mission is to help integrate animals into people’s lives.” Having had animal companions herself since the age of five, the actress can’t imagine ever being without them. “To me, there’s no life without animals. If they were missing, an entire universe would be lost.”