Ariel and Jazzy, Vancouver
Identity: Non-binary

'All of our family pets were rescues, but Jazzy was my first rescue. I got her when I was 16 and still in high school. Before I got her, I was a troubled kid that struggled with anxiety, depression and weight problems. I felt like an outsider and I struggled with coming to terms with my sexuality. I couldn’t talk to my mum about any of these things, she berated me for my weight and appearance and she was openly very homophobic. I didn't feel like anyone or anything actually needed me and I didn't feel like life was going to get better, like the famous phrase promises. 

I had fallen in love with Jazzy at the local shelter, but found out that she was going to a new home the following day. Around that time I had been studying basic metaphysics and the law of attraction, and so I decided to play with the concept. I was working at my grandmother's store at the weekends, so I began adding to my savings in preparation to adopt Jazzy even though she had already been adopted. I would visualise what it was like to see her in our car, to get a new leash and collar for her, to rename her, and to take her on adventures to the beach. A few weeks later we got a call from the shelter to say that she had been returned so I used every penny that I had saved from working at my grandma's store to finally bring her home. This remains one of the greatest days of my life.

As soon as I got Jazzy, my relationship with the world and with myself began to change. I promised Jazzy that I would dedicate my life to ensuring she had the best life possible, and in order to do that, I knew I had to commit to staying alive. She's been there for me through some horrific events but above all, she's been my most permanent and stable family member. Here we are 14 years later and still going strong.

Jazzy and I had to leave the family home a long time ago, it wasn’t a safe place to be. Years later I finally came out to my mum and I won’t repeat what she said to me here but our relationship has never really improved, even as the years passed. In leaving my family home, I’ve slowly begun to rebuild my life and lift myself out of poverty. Jazzy got me through the worst time of my life and kept me alive and I’m hoping to be able to use my experience to help others by training to be a trauma-informed counsellor.
Jazzy’s helped me see that I have so much love and care to offer the world. She continues to remind me that I don't have to become hardened to the world just because I was mistreated. I try to let go of the past but I still have nightmares because that’s just how insidious trauma is. Jazzy knows when I'm having a nightmare and she either wakes me up or positions herself right next to my head, as if she's saying "it's okay - I'm right here, and I’ll always be here".'

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