Reba: The Jaycee Dugard of Dogs

My 7-year-old learned to ride a two-wheeler a mere 10 days ago. Note I said “ride”…stopping was a whole other story. She’s was not only unable to stop, she was afraid to even try. Luckily, we have a park nearby with a nice, flat bike path, and grass for soft landings close to each side, so it was there that I was determined to get her to at least attempt this vital component of bike riding. Unfortunately, it wasn’t going very well. At all. Until we saw Reba.

On the path, just before the dreaded “stopping point”—which  we were approaching in tears, mind you—was the cutest Jack Russell Terrier I’d seen in many a year. That back and forth hobble, that cute nubby tail, scruffy bearded face. And Eureka! My dog-loving beginner bike-rider now had the perfect reason to practice braking and stopping: to visit with that adorable dog.

So it came to pass that my daughter’s first successful stop on a bike involved meeting “Reba.”  And oh was she well rewarded. All licks and snuggles, nubby tail just going as fast as it could, Reba was clearly a people dog, and a perfectly gentle lady with the kids.

“Never ceases to amaze me,” her proud person began, “that a dog who lived in a metal cage in someone’s nasty backyard cranking out litter after litter for 8 years can be so sweet.”

Wow. Honestly, as my heart began to sink when I pictured this sweet dog in those conditions, the first thing that came to my mind was “You poor, poor thing. You are the Jaycee Dugard of dogs.”

The girl who, at 11 years old, was snatched just feet from her parent’s house by a predator and his brainwashed wife, Jaycee Dugard was forced to live in tin shacks in the backyard of their house for 18 years, was raped by and bore children for her captor…all against her will. And, while it may at first seem absurd to compare this young woman’s torment to the suffering of sweet Reba the Jack Russell Terrier, I must ask, aren’t their situations at least parallel?

In fact, to even further connect the circumstances, I have to wonder about all those who just didn’t see the signs of Reba’s suffering, just as none seemed to notice Jaycee’s. Did any of the people who purchased Reba’s countless puppies even ask about their mother? Did they even wonder how she was being “housed”? Were they aware of the loneliness and squalor in which she lived? Or worse still, did they know and just not care enough to do or say anything?

The most devastating part of Reba’s tragic first 8 years, in my mind anyway, is that it all could have been prevented. I mean think of it, had Reba’s owner had her spayed as soon as she reached sexual maturity, would her “captor” even have been interested in her? As most backyard puppy-mill owners’ are only interested in money, it’s likely they would not have been.  And while her story will now likely have a very happy ending, one simple surgery damn sure would have spared this sweet dog 8 long years of sheer misery.

Please, please choose to do the right thing. Spay and neuter your pets. Do it for all the “Rebas” out there. The “breeder dogs” crouched in tiny wire cages in filthy backyards, lonely, in ill health and pregnant for the third time in a year. You can prevent it all.

Celebrate this coming Puppy Mill Awareness Day on September 17 by adopting from a shelter or rescue. Learn more about puppy mills. And please visit to help support others who are choosing to do the right thing as well.

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