Becca Tobin may play the part of a bully on Glee, but in real life she’s anything but. An avid animal lover and dog guardian, she’s also an active anti-bullying spokeswoman.
If you watch Glee, you know that actress Becca Tobin plays a high school bully named Kitty Wilde. Some actors may resemble the characters they play on television, but Becca, a lifelong animal lover and anti-bullying spokeswoman, is a very different person from her on-screen alter ego.
She knows that bullies often start out by abusing and hurting animals. “Bullying helpless animals is one of the most disgraceful acts I can think of,” she says. “Everything about people hurting animals is despicable.”
Becca’s passion for protecting both animals and people faced with perennial, relentless abuse led her to become a spokesperson for Bullyville.com, a non-profit organization devoted to inspiring victims of bullying while at the same time forcing bullies to take accountability for their actions. On the site, she has shared her own personal account of being bullied as a teenager, and has received many positive responses from both children and adults who struggled at one time or another with bullies. (Becca Tobin isn’t the only celebrity who knows what it feels like to be a victim of bullying – other stars who have shared stories on the website of their personal plights with bullies include comedic actor Paul Rudd and Dr. Drew Pinsky.)
Her canine companions
Becca’s affinity for animals began at age three when her parents brought home a Bichon Frise puppy named Bonnie. As a toddler, Becca was scared to sleep alone at night, and her parents knew that a dog to cuddle with in bed would be the perfect remedy. “Bonnie slept with me every night until I left for college,” Becca reminisces. A Bichon was the perfect choice for Becca, who is allergic to dogs and therefore can only live with hypoallergenic breeds. Today, she shares her life with a Maltese named Sophie. Becca chose a Maltese because in addition to being hypoallergenic, the breed is also “alert, smart and in touch with the owner’s emotions,” Becca says. “Any time I’m sad, she knows it and gives me extra cuddles and kisses.”
Becca and Sophie have been best friends ever since the little dog entered her life as an eight-week-old pup seven years ago. Though Sophie only weighs ten pounds, she enjoys long hikes in Fryman Canyon in the Hollywood Hills. “She runs around like a wild animal, completely oblivious to the fact that she is small, white and fluffy,” Becca says. The duo often travels together too, regularly visiting Becca’s grandparents in Atlanta, a trip that Sophie loves particularly well. “It means lots of attention and millions of treats!” And the actress and her small furry companion never let a sunny weekend slip by without visiting a beach. “As soon as the sand hits her paws she goes crazy,” Becca laughs.
Dashing through the white sands of Southern California like a maniac is not Sophie’s only quirk. “She hates goodbyes,” says Becca Tobin. “When I have visitors over and hug them goodbye, she yelps really loudly like she’s begging them to stay.” The little Maltese also has a habit of climbing up onto the bathroom sink and drinking running water from the faucet – a habit that, according to Becca, is “slightly out of control!”
Advocate for holistic healing
Becca and Sophie are more than best friends and playmates. The actress cares for Sophie as any doting mother would care for a child, and ensures that Sophie always eats nutritiously. An advocate for holistic healing and remedies, Becca gave Sophie a food and treat makeover not long ago. “I have switched Sophie from an all-kibble diet to mixing in organic boiled chicken with an all-natural (grain-free) dog food,” she explains. “All her treats are also all natural. I pour a little glucosamine on top of her food to keep her joints healthy as she gets older.” Becca adds that Sophie’s greatest joy in life is probably chicken, and that her little companion is completely satisfied with the changes to her diet.
This healthy diet proved helpful when Sophie’s groomer recently discovered a lump on Sophie’s leg. Worried, Becca immediately took her friend to the vet’s office. Sophie was diagnosed as having a grade 2 mast cell tumor. The veterinarian surgically removed the tumor and the lymph node closest to it. Currently, Sophie is scheduled for radiation to dissolve any lingering cancerous cells.
Cancer is often unavoidable as dogs grow older, but Becca Tobin says her veterinarian is glad she is doing everything in her power to keep Sophie healthy at this fragile time in her life, including her diligence about a balanced diet. “A healthy intake is crucial,” Becca says. She and her veterinarian are hopeful that with continued good food, veterinary care and holistic supplements, Sophie’s cancer will soon be a distant memory, and the pair will be back to exploring the hiking trails and beaches around Los Angeles in no time.
While caring for Sophie, Becca continues to appear on Glee and do what she can to raise awareness of the devastating effects of bullying on people and animals. Her on-screen persona might be mean and manipulative, but the real-life woman has a heart of gold!
Amberly Scott Hindler owns and operates Lux Dog Daycare, Inc. in West Los Angeles, (luxdogdaycare.com). She worked in client services at high-traffic veterinary hospitals in Los Angeles for many years after graduating from the University of Southern California. Amberly is the recipient of a Gold Circle Award for Journalists from Columbia University’s Scholastic Press Association.