A Mississippi Pooch Meets Her Match

March 13, 2019


After Danny R. graduated from Columbia Law School, he planned to move to California and take the bar exam. But he had one order of business first: adopting a dog.

Danny grew up on a horse ranch in Fresno, California, where his father was a ranch hand. He was surrounded by animals growing up—including horses, a talking macaw, chickens and dogs—but having been away from home for nearly 10 years, he sorely missed the companionship of a wet nose and a four-legged running buddy.

His only criteria for a dog was that it be young and small, so they could fly together to Los Angeles.

“I showed up one day at the ASPCA and Bixby fit those requirements,” Daniel explains. “She was just 12 lb. and would fit in a carry-on. Plus, she was very affectionate.”

A Southern Belle moves to the Big Apple

The black Poodle-mix had been transported to New York City from Oktibbeha County Humane Society in Starkville, Mississippi, by the ASPCA’s Relocation Team, which transports animals from shelters in areas of high homeless pet overpopulation (known as source shelters), to destination shelters, where there is a higher demand for adoptable animals. The ASPCA moved 2,569 animals from Oktibbeha in 2017 and relocated another 2,708 in 2018.

“Effective relocation partnerships not only help shelters like Oktibbeha reduce overcrowding, but it also allows them to focus on development of best practices and new programs to improve animal welfare and save more lives in their communities,” explains the ASPCA’s Lou Guyton, Senior Director of Relocation. 

Rachel Maso, Senior Manager of Behavior at the ASPCA Adoption Center, fondly recalls Bixby’s arrival. She helped socialize the pooch by supervising her interaction with other dogs. “I almost adopted her myself,” says Rachel. “She was lovely, though slightly fearful.”

Reina in the snow

Another New Kingdom

Bixby, now called Reina (for “queen” in Spanish), is very well-adjusted these days, and made the cross-country airplane journey without any issues “You didn’t even know she was there, she was so quiet,” Danny says.

Reina in hay

Danny’s parents still have a working ranch, which Danny and Reina visit about once a month. 

“Reina has the time of her life,” Danny says. “She has lots of space, three other dogs to play with and a myriad of other species. She’s a mini-hurricane, and she brings all the energy.”

And on the three and a half hour jaunts from L.A. to Fresno and back, “Reina’s a great co-pilot,” Danny adds.

At home, Danny and Reina run together every morning and visit their local dog park for playtime. They enjoy hanging out with friends, including a Husky named Gus and a cat named Lady Pounce.

Reina at home

Make Adoption Your First Option®

Danny has strong opinions about adopting an animal versus buying one, as well as finding a good match. 

“We didn’t have much money growing up, so buying a dog from a breeder was never an alternative,” says Danny, who is one of four children. “There’s a huge supply of homeless dogs out there, so there’s no need to buy one. Our family always rescued dogs.”

“I think when you decide to get a dog you should be asking yourself why you want a dog,” he adds. “Is it for companionship? For exercise? Because you like the way it looks? Be honest with yourself. The more requirements you impose, the less it’s about companionship and the more it is about wanting a plush toy. In the broader sense, having a dog is about making a connection with another living being; it’s about compatibility.” 

Danny and Reina are proof positive that love and compatibility can be discovered no matter where you’re from, where you’re found, or where you fly.

Reina and Danny