Joey and Cherry, Toronto
Identity: Trans, non-binary lesbian
'Cherry came into my life at a really important juncture. I was going through a really difficult time with my mental health when I made the decision to bring her home. I was depressed and overwhelmed with just about everything that was happening around me. I had two dogs that belonged to my partner at the time, but wanted my own dog to consider my partner in dogs sports and life.
I wasn’t able to work or socialize because of the pandemic and like many, felt completely isolated. Some people loved the quiet and solitude that covid shrouded us in but I’m an extravert by nature and draw a lot of my energy from being around people. I ended up breaking up with my partner which left me couch surfing during the pandemic - it’s not a good position to find yourself in at the best of times. Thankfully my family have always been supportive around my changing identities, mental health challenges and everything else, and I knew I could reach out to them or live with them at any moment - lots of people don’t have that.
I’ve struggled with suicidal ideation throughout my life but was finally diagnosed with bipolar this June. I’m medicated and in therapy for the first time ever and despite the turbulence of the first few months of my life with Cherry, I’d say I’m the happiest I’ve been in a long time. Cherry is being trained to be my service dog and is exactly the partner I had been searching for. Being able to take her out and work on our disc and agility training got me through one of the darkest times in my mental health history. Her insatiable joy gets me going on days when nothing else could. I think I’d be just another statistic had it not been for Cherry.'