When I call for our interview, Deirdre Lovejoy is vacationing at her aunt’s house in Long Beach Island, New Jersey. The New York City- based actress is delighted because this trip marks the very first time her dog—Mr. Huckleberry Pickles—is getting to play in the ocean. “There’s something wonderful about seeing him just able to run and play with the waves,” Lovejoy shares, her deep affection for Mr. Pickles palpably apparent even through the phone.
Lovejoy adopted Mr. Pickles from Animal Care and Control of NYC three days before Halloween in 2016. He was struggling when she took him home—severely malnourished, unable to eat, and hanging on by a thread. Today, he’s a happy, healthy pup, zipping across the sandy shore.
Since long before she was the proud caregiver of Mr. Pickles, Lovejoy has enjoyed enormous success as a television actress. Immediately recognizable as the smart and snappy Rhonda Pearlman from The Wire, Lovejoy has also appeared on shows like The Blacklist, Orange is the New Black, and American Gothic. We spoke with Lovejoy about her most important role of all—that of a dedicated pet parent.
TAILS: How did Mr. Pickles come into your life?
Lovejoy: I lost my cat, Chester, of fourteen years last May, and I knew I wanted to get a dog. My partner and I had been looking on Petfinder for a couple of months, knowing that the time would come. Finally we saw this picture of a dog that looked like a wreck. He was found running in traffic with a leash still attached, his fur so overgrown and matted his eyes were covered up.
When he was shaved his head was green from mold because he had been so neglected for so long.
[We went to meet him and] I put my face up to the cage and he came over and kissed me. We went back the next day and got him.
What was he like then?
He was 9 pounds. He was covered with scabs. He was so emaciated. And he always had a smile on his face. I didn’t realize how close to not surviving he was. If I’d have known how on the edge he was, I would have been much more worried. I just always assumed he was going to be okay. Ignorance is bliss.
He’s the most adorable white fluffy Poodle mix. The first week we had him, we were in the elevator and there were a couple kids and my partner said to them, “You can pet him if you want,” and the kids said, “no thanks” because he looked that bad. And now he kind of stops traffic because he’s so beautiful.
I’ve never met a dog with a better disposition. He’s pretty much perfect. I’m working with The Good Dog Foundation now to get him certified as a service animal so we can go into children’s hospitals and retirement homes.
What has been the most rewarding part about rescuing Mr. Pickles?
How much joy he’s brought into my life, and the life of every single person he meets. He’s just pure love, and it’s hard to be sad around him. It’s difficult to pinpoint one thing that he has made better about my life, because I just can’t imagine it without him.
How did you choose his name?
The name they’d given him at the shelter was Huckleberry, and we added the Mr. Pickles part, so thus Mr. Huckleberry Pickles was born. People react so joyously to his name—it really fits him.
How has he changed your life?
He’s really special, and I’m convinced we’re meant to do great things together. Part of that is we’re on a mission [to promote] adoption. I think it’s a crime that there are so many pets who need homes and that people still choose to go and buy dogs or cats from breeders.
Spreading awareness and fixing misconceptions about shelter animals is so important.
Exactly. First impressions can be deceiving. If Mr. Pickles hadn’t looked so terrible he would have been adopted immediately, but because he was in such terrible shape nobody knew there was a little fluffy gorgeous dog there. So I’m just lucky he looked like such a wreck!