Aletia and Niffy, Guernsey Channel Islands
Identity: Bisexual cis woman
'My wife and I are both animal lovers and always had dogs when we were growing up so we were desperate to have a dog to join our family when we moved to Guernsey together in 2019. Unfortunately, the restrictions for pets within the rental market in Guernsey meant that we had to wait until we were homeowners to have a dog live with us. We’ve always believed in adopting so as soon as we were settled into our new home in 2020, we began our search for a rescue.
Niffy took a long time to find amidst pandemic lockdowns and border closures but she was worth every second of the wait. She got delayed and diverted numerous times on her long journey from Cyprus before finally arriving in Guernsey on Valentine’s Day. My Valentine’s Day dog brought with her not only an abundance of love but she’s also been instrumental in improving my life. My wife says Niffy is actually me, only in dog form, and it’s true, she often seems to pick up on, and even mirrors my emotions at times.
I’ve lived with chronic illness for 18 years now and recently got diagnosed with ADHD and finally it feels like everything has started to make sense. I’ve been trying to navigate two very different, often conflicting conditions. Before Niffy came into my life I would have worried about the repercussions of physically exerting myself so I would often compensate by mentally exerting myself as a way to cope, but extremes don’t often work well as a coping mechanism, not for very long anyway.
Niffy and I go to the beach together every day after work, and even on the really bad days when I’m struggling with chronic pain or fatigue, just sitting on the beach and throwing her ball makes everything feel better without causing me more setbacks. Watching her play brings a feeling of peace to my life that I’ve not felt for so long. Our time on the beach allows me to pause, reflect and centre myself. It’s always been a battle putting my self care first - but Niffy changed that. If something has a positive impact on Niffy’s wellbeing then it becomes something that l prioritise, and by doing so, I prioritize myself and in turn have more to give back to the world.
I navigate the world as a cis person who is 'hetero passing' and have, for the most part, avoided many of the issues faced by those in our community who don’t as seamlessly ‘blend in’. I’m a huge advocate of the work of Liberate - the island’s LGBTQ charity. They’ve implemented significant change in the island since we’ve been here and I remain hopeful that the future will be a more accepting and compassionate one.'