By Janet McAfee
I met up with Bianca Rae and her 4-year-old dog, Jack, at Jack’s doggie birthday party last Saturday at the Seeley dog park in La Quinta. About 10 people and 10 pups gathered to celebrate another year in the life of this precious Spaniel mix rescue dog. Blue and green balloons decorated the park, and the dogs munched on doggie pastries from Cold Nose Warm Heart as their owners sipped blueberry juice. While the humans socialized, the dogs frolicked and joyfully chased each other around the spacious grassy enclosure designed for their pleasure. The expression on Jack’s face when he opened his presents was priceless. He had a knowing, proud and grateful expression as he examined the dog treats and dog accessories he received. He gently poked his nose to explore each package, reveling in the celebration and attention.
Jack did a happy dance, wagging his tail joyfully when Bianca’s boyfriend, Ryan, arrived. Ryan clearly is bonded with Jack as well, and he reports, “Jack is a great dog. At first it took him some time to get used to me, but he’s just a happy guy. I’m a firm believer that a dog becomes an extension of their people. At nighttime when Bianca calls him, Jack comes running and snuggles up to her like a pillow. He has some scars, but one’s scars make them even more loveable!”
We believe the first 2 years of Jack’s life were not so joyful. Bianca adopted Jack two years ago from the animal shelter in Indio that has since closed. Jack was a stray dog on the streets of Indio, and he arrived at the shelter scruffy, dirty, and battle scarred with a torn ear. He is still afraid of cars, and is a bit skittish at times. He waited in a shelter kennel for a long time before being adopted. Bianca was volunteering at the shelter, but had no plan to adopt an animal. She would clean Jack’s cage and bring him special treats, but hesitated about adopting, thinking that at age 22 she might be too young to have a dog.
But Jack had other plans, and was determined to win Bianca’s heart with his sweet demeanor and eyes that look deep into your soul. On February 15, 2012, Bianca adopted Jack and he became her lifelong Valentine. Bianca describes what it was like to take Jack into her life. “When you meet ‘the right one’, you just know. When I rescued Jack, I knew I wanted to spoil this little kid. He obviously went without for so long. I treat him like a little person and even tell him stories.”
You may recognize Bianca Rae as a reporter and fill-in anchor for KESQ news channel 3 and CBS local 2 here in the desert. However, these days it is Jack who often gets recognized in public after appearing in the televised PSA spots he does with Bianca about the plight of homeless animals, calling for a “No Kill Coachella Valley”.
The memory of the many homeless animals in Indio and the subsequent closing of their shelter proved to be a catalyst for Bianca Rae. Adopting Jack was a joyful experience, but so many more remained at the shelter. There were 250 animals remaining when the Indio shelter closed its doors to new intakes. Bianca sprang into action, bringing her media contacts and organizing skills to the cause of “Operation Indio Animals”. She worked with Loving All Animals and the shelter staff to organize a series of adoption events and televised PSA’s that resulted in all 250 animals going to adoptive homes or private rescue groups.
The Bianca Rae Foundation is her newest endeavor. Bianca explains, “My goal has always been to start my own nonprofit. I have a platform to influence people through the media. Everyone has a purpose and a story to tell, and my story involves a shelter dog who changed my life. People are influenced by what they see on television, and I have the opportunity to show them that the joy of adopting a shelter dog can be theirs too! One focus of my foundation will be to host adoption events for shelter animals.” More information about her foundation can be found at www.biancaraefoundation.org.
Bianca’s next event is coming up on February 23, the second annual “Faith, Hope, and Pups” at the Empire Polo Grounds. Tickets are $95 and proceeds will benefit the Palm Springs Shelter and the Bianca Rae Foundation. For tickets, call (760) 861-1006.
Bianca believes that Jack suffered some form of abuse during that dark first half of his life. “I am in awe of him, knowing that he was abused and yet he doesn’t have a mean or aggressive bone in his body. Jack makes me realize how happy each of us can be in spite of our past. Your past doesn’t have to be your future. Jack’s tail never stops wagging, and he spreads happiness to everyone around him.” This charming local celebrity lends her voice to the cause of rescue, hoping for the day when homeless animals will no longer wander our streets or fill our shelters.
You just might want to adopt a shelter dog this Valentine’s week. You can view dozens of wonderful adoptables on the Riverside County shelter’s website at www.rcdas.org. And when you adopt that rescue dog, you just never know what path he may take you down! Just ask Bianca Rae and Jack.