McClatchy's America

Former shelter dog living high life with reality star Lisa Vanderpump

Harrison in his new Beverly Hills digs.
Harrison in his new Beverly Hills digs. Courtesy Sacramento SPCA

One day, you’re just another fluff ball in a kennel at the Sacramento SPCA.

Then, in the shake of a Pomeranian’s tail, you’re living the high life in a Beverly Hills mansion.

That, in a nutshell, is the story of a 4-year-old Pom pup with a stubborn skin condition whose family took him to the Sacramento shelter the day after Christmas because they said they were moving out of the country.

Sacramento SPCA staffer Sarah Varanini took one look at the dog, Harrison, and knew she had a potential media star on her hands. So she snapped his picture, put it on Twitter and Facebook and tagged Lisa Vanderpump of the popular Bravo reality show “Vanderpump Rules.”

Vanderpump, an unapologetic animal lover, trots around Beverly Hills in the show with her purse dog Giggy, a Pomeranian who like Harrison suffers from the skin ailment alopecia. Giggy, with his lionesque face peeking from sweaters and other garb that cover the hair loss associated with his disease, has become almost as recognizable as Vanderpump and her husband, Kenneth Todd, ultra-wealthy Brits who own two restaurants in Southern California. The reality show tracks the life and exploits of the family and their restaurant staff members.

It took mere minutes for Vanderpump to respond to the SPCA’s posts about Harrison, said shelter spokeswoman Lesley Kirrene. “I’ll take him!” she tweeted Varanini, and the dog’s new life was in motion.

After a lively series of texts and telephone calls, the three women came up with a plan to get Harrison to Beverly Hills. On Saturday afternoon, Vanderpump met Varanini and Kirrene, who toted the dog on her lap in an SPCA vehicle, at a McDonald’s in the tiny town of Kingsburg, near Fresno.

“He was real chill,” Kirrene said of Harrison. “He was wrapped in a sweater and burrowed into my coat. He’s just a nice little dog.”

Vanderpump, after pulling up in a shiny silver sedan, pronounced that she thought so, too.

“She loved him right away,” Kirrene said. “She had lots of questions” about his sensibilities, diet and health, but never hesitated about taking him home.

As the three women chatted in the parking lot, a tourist from Iowa approached and asked if Vanderpump would oblige her for a photo. Vanderpump did so. Kingsburgians pointed and whispered: A celebrity was in their midst.

Hours later, back in Beverly Hills, Vanderpump sent Kirrene and Varanini a photo of Harrison lounging on a fancy piece of furniture that resembles a dog-sized fainting couch.

Later, she tweeted a photo of Harrison with Giggy and another dog posing with the former pop singer Boy George. She reported that everyone was getting along swimmingly.

Vanderpump’s $10 million mansion, called Villa Rosa, is considered to be among the most stunning homes in Beverly Hills. It features 8,800 square feet of luxuriousness, including five bedrooms, eight bathrooms, a library, a chef’s kitchen, a pool and a guest house.

Pretty nice digs for a dog that, for a few days at least, was homeless.

“It’s exciting,” Kirrene said. “We’re hoping to see Harrison on the show. He certainly has the personality for it!”

Cynthia Hubert: 916-321-1082, @Cynthia_Hubert