Pets & Animals

Owner uses photos of her precious pups to help animals in shelters

They play together. They read together. They sleep together. They even watch Meryl Streep together.

The adventures of Harlow, a gentle Weimaraner, and her inseparable best friends have left a (paw) print on the hearts of their over 800,000 followers.

Brittni Vega, "Harlow’s human," explained that the story started in 2000 with Sage, a miniature dachshund she got as a teenager. Eight years later after she married her husband Jeff, Harlow joined the family and the two pups instantly bonded.

“Harlow took on all of Sage's dachshund traits,” Vega said in an email to TODAY.com. “She burrows under the blankets and tries to sit on everyone's lap. We think that she believes she is a dachshund and doesn't know how big she really is.”

Vega started the Instagram account @harlowandsage in 2013 to showcase the dynamic duo’s special friendship.

Rainstorm! #summerpets

A photo posted by Harlow, Sage, Indiana & Reese (@harlowandsage) on

“Sage's health was declining and I wasn't sure how much longer we would have with her. I wanted to capture every moment of the time that she had left with us,” she said.

Sadly, Sage passed away in September 2013 due to heart problems. Vega wasn’t sure if she was going to continue her Instagram account, but then Indiana Thunderbolt, a brown miniature dachshund, came along shortly after Sage passed away. Then Reese Lightning, a black-and-white spotted miniature dachshund, was added to the family at the end of 2014 and Vega had new canine camaraderie to capture.

And then there were three.

A photo posted by Harlow, Sage, Indiana & Reese (@harlowandsage) on

“Harlow is the gentle giant. She can be a little bit hyper when we go places, but at home, she is my shadow and looks after everyone in the house,” Vega related. “Indiana is independent and likes to be the center of attention. She has a big personality for such a small dog. Reese is always calm and loves to eat and sleep.”

The one where they got a teepee. And Chief Lightning was so proud of her tribe.

A photo posted by Harlow, Sage, Indiana & Reese (@harlowandsage) on

Inspired by Guinnevere Shuster, an employee at The Humane Society of Utah, Vega decided to use her huge following to promote animals in shelters.

“Each picture she takes really shows the personality of each animal at the Humane Society of Utah and I think that is so important when you are trying to find a home for an animal," Vega said of Shuster. "People want to see that side.”

Vega shares several photos of shelter pets a week on the original Instagram account. In addition, she recently started another account, @harlowandfriends, to solely feature pictures of shelter animals that she reposts from shelters globally or that people email to her.

“It is a small effort, but one that I hope is making a difference,” Vega explained. "The best moments are when shelter animals that we have shared on our account are adopted. Whether they find a home through our efforts or the animal shelters, it is a really good feeling to know that one of them has found a loving home.”

Vega, Harlow, Indiana and Reese have also teamed up with other accounts and organizations such as BarkBox, a company that donates 10 percent of its profits to organizations that help dogs in need, and @TunaMeltsMyHeart. Recently, they raised over $8,000 for eight different animal shelters across the United States.

“I wanted to do something special with that, and so helping shelter animals was a no-brainer,” Vega said. “It has been a dream come true.”

(a photograph that will embarrass them when they are adults)

A photo posted by Harlow, Sage, Indiana & Reese (@harlowandsage) on

Vega also has a book out written in Harlow's voice, "Harlow & Sage (and Indiana)." A sequel, "Harlow and Indiana (and Reese)," is coming out in the fall.

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