ASPCA thanks ‘such a beautiful heart’

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Marlene Lake, her husband, David, and their granddaughter Amaya walk Jasper at Franke Park, next to Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo. Marlene Lake organized a benefit for the Allen County SPCA, to be held April 22 at Franke Park.

Marlene Lake tells the short version of a story of 37 years with her pets. Her husband, David, co-stars in that story, which wouldn’t be complete without dogs Holly, Major, Shadow or Jasper. Now there’s a cat, too, named Lucy or maybe Luke.

Well, some stories just aren’t meant to be condensed.

Lake’s appreciation of the Allen County SPCA isn’t told quickly, either. Her latest focus is an April 22 fundraiser at Franke Park. “We’re calling it Shop. Rescue. Support. Allen County SPCA Benefit,” she said. Lake can call it what she wants; it was her idea, and she’s been up past midnight since December pulling together the details.

“I decided to hold an event for two reasons,” she said. “One is to raise money for the ACSPCA because my husband and I got our first dog from the ACSPCA back in 1980. Her name was Holly. She was with us for 13 years.”

The second goal is exposure for independent sales representatives who pay their bills by offering soap, candles, popcorn, plastic ware and cosmetics at such events. Lake sells jewelry and luxury bath and body products. Lake will share Park Pavilion No. 1 with at least 47 other vendors, who will be joined by three food trucks. They all know what it takes to move their business from place to place from spring through fall.

“It’s a lot of work. For just my jewelry it takes me an hour and a half to set up my display,” she said.

She has booked vendors from across Indiana and even Ohio. “As soon as they heard it was for the ACSPCA they all wanted to be part of this,” she said.

So from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Lake and company will offer their goods. There will be music, drawings and a silent auction.

Allen County SPCA Community Relations Manager Melissa Gibson is working with Lake to plan out the day. “Marlene has such a beautiful heart for this organization and she has had rescue dogs herself,” Gibson said. “She came in here and said ‘I want to do this event’ and we said OK.”

The ACSPCA will have adoptable pets on hand at the April 22 event. When everything is in place, dogs can be adopted in one day. “If you’re adopting a cat it’s a little looser,” Gibson said. “But if you’re adopting a doggy we want to make sure the entire family including Dad and the doggies are there. We want to make sure it’s a good fit.”

“We are serving more animals than we’ve ever served,” Gibson said from the Hanna Street shelter. “We had 2,600 adoptions last year, and the need is growing.”

The Allen County SPCA also helps with a pet food bank and supports low-cost veterinary assistance, so Gibson said the agency welcomes the financial support from the Franke Park fundraiser. Admission is $1 for ages 11 and older.

Back to Lake’s pets story, picking up with adopting Holly from the Allen County SPCA in 1980. “She was a good dog. She was a Heinz 57,” Lake said. Holly shared the house with Major, who was a miniature pinscher. “We just couldn’t let him stay in the pet store,” Lake said. In 1997, Shadow followed Lake’s daughter, Pam, home. “I don’t know how much it followed her,” Lake said. They called the ACSPCA, which put up posters to no avail; Shadow was now Pam’s dog. About two weeks after Shadow died in 2013, Lake checked out rescue sites online. “We came across this little black dog and I thought it was funny because if Shadow had been a puppy, I would swear that was what Shadow would have looked like,” Lake said. “And so we drove down to a rescue [shelter] in Indianapolis and that’s where we got Jasper.”

That leaves only the cat portion of the story. No, not yet. Lake had kept pets while she was growing up, including but not limited to hamsters, iguanas, guinea pigs, turtles and birds. She owned two Siamese cats when she married David, who was not a cat person. So the Lakes kept dogs, only dogs.

“And in 2013 again we lived with a pond behind us and there was this stray cat and it just cried. It had this ungodly cry,” she said. Then the cat decided to climb onto Marlene’s lap. She realized it was a former house cat becayse it had had its front claws removed. Then the cat climbed onto David’s lap. “He said ‘Just go ahead and let the cat stay,’ ” Marlene said. “And now they’re best buddies.”

They thought the new pet was a little girl, Lucy. The veterinarian said the cat is really Luke. The family is not convinced. The feline companion is now Lucy-Luke, just to be safe. And Lucy-Luke is crying no longer.

Marlene, David, Jasper and the new arrival live near Northrop High School.

Now Marlene wants to repay the ACSPCA for helping her to find a pet, and for protecting so many other pets. She will repay the agency with a fundraiser. And that’s the short version.

(Allen County SPCA is not affiliated with the national organization of a similar name. For more information on the agency’s services and current guests, and for suggestions for support, visit allencountyspca.org.)