Therapy horses that helped Jaycee Dugard return one year after Nuns Fire

Monday, October 8, 2018
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The Nuns Fire destroyed home after home, including a ranch used by a noted trauma therapist as a place of healing for her patients.

GLENN ELLEN, Calif. (KGO) -- Among the places hard-hit by last year's North Bay wildfires was the tiny Sonoma County community of Glen Ellen. That's where, exactly one year ago, the Nuns Fire destroyed home after home, including a ranch used by a noted trauma therapist as a place of healing for her patients. One of those patients, Jaycee Dugard, helped save the horses at the height of the fire.

Dr. Rebecca Bailey hasn't brought her therapy horses back to her ranch property since that fateful fire. She worried it would be too traumatic for them, given what they had gone through. But as Bailey and her husband Charles Holmes unloaded Fresia and Dr. Velcro from their trailer, she tried to reassure them.

"Step, step-- what do you think? What the heck happened here?" Bailey asked Fresia, easing her out of the trailer. "We're going to go see our permission tree, it's our favorite."

RELATED: The Slow Rebuild: One Year after the North Bay Fires

Fresia and Dr. Velcro are therapy horses owned by Bailey, the psychologist who helped Jaycee Dugard recover from the trauma of living as a captive for nearly two decades.

"Winston Churchill said there's something about the outside of a horse that good for the inside of a man, or woman," said Bailey.

On the night of the fire, with Bailey and Holmes out of the country, Jaycee was in the area and among those who came to rescue the horses, along with Bailey's grown step-son and daughter.

"Very frightened-- to get a call from your daughter saying, 'Mom, I just drove down the block and there are 20 foot flames on either side,'" recalled Bailey. "Jaycee went and got some friends of our's to get the horses, and all of them left but these two put us through 24 hours to 36 hours of terror-- terror really."

The horses were saved, but most everything else was a total loss-- the home Bailey and her husband shared and the ranch the couple used as a "Protected Space" for Bailey's patients, people trying to recover from a traumatic event.

"It was an oasis, so losing this spot, losing the notion, it was even called a Protected Space, has been horrendous," said Bailey.

RELATED: The North Bay Wildfires: One Year Later

"It's taken a year to hit me," said Holmes, who told us he's still processing all that was lost here.

"You know it strips everything down so that all that's left is love and what we care about really," said Holmes.

"What we found is the protected space is more about the people who are around to protect the people who are here, then maybe the spot," said Bailey.

On this day they're just visiting, but someday soon the horses will return to the ranch to live, and Bailey and her husband will rebuild their house and the ranch, where so many people-- like Jaycee-- finally felt safe.

"It's been a year, so everybody's ready to move forward," said Bailey.

Go here for full coverage on the North Bay fires.