Owen and Nevi,Dartmouth, Nova Scotia,
Identity: Male

"I adopted Nevi on a road trip in the USA after meeting him at a rescue that had told me he was older than he was, that he was cat friendly, and crate trained. He turned out to be much younger, not cat safe, and terrified of crates. He also turned out to be very reactive and I felt like I’d made a huge mistake and that I wasn’t going to be able to offer him the home he needed. I seriously considered finding him a new home with no cats with someone with experience helping reactive dogs, but he then became epileptic, and I knew at that point that he would likely struggle to get rehomed and there would be a good chance he would be euthanized. That was the turning point for us and so I doubled down on my commitment to care for him. We started confidence training classes which really helped curb his reactivity. I can’t explain the amount of work, emotion, and money it has taken to get him to the point he’s at now, but I can say it’s been an irreplaceable experience to see him become a much more confident and happier dog who gets to enjoy a full life.  

Owning a dog significantly changed me in ways I wasn’t expecting. I thought I was adopting a dog to support my mental health by getting me outside more and into nature. But once I realized that he was not going to be my emotional support animal and that it was actually me that was going to be his emotional support animal, things quickly began to change. He wasn’t ready for going on happy little walks in nature and we had to start from the ground up to make that a safe and enjoyable experience for both of us. I didn’t realize how much patience I would have to develop. Where at times in my life I barely felt capable of taking care of myself, I had to learn to trust myself to care for a creature who depended on me for everything. And in doing that, I learned how to better care for myself too. A lot of the things he needed were things I needed too. Who wouldn’t benefit from taking confidence classes in basic life and social skills? I learned how to set boundaries with others to reduce his exposure to reactive triggers or fear responses. In doing so, I learned how to set boundaries for myself and my own triggers and recognize how important that is as the emotional and sensitive beings we all are.  ​

Being queer is one of the most beautiful things about myself and my life, and I’m grateful every day to be who I am and to belong to the queer community. But have I faced challenges as a result? Most definitely. I struggled through most of my late teens and early-mid 20’s with homelessness, financial insecurity, suicidal ideation, sexual assault, trouble with the law, and generally felt like it was a never-ending battle to be me in this world, all because of my identity not being accepted, embraced, or loved. And that right there is exactly why I committed to giving Nevi what he needed, because I totally understand what it feels like, through no fault of your own, to feel alone, lost, and terrified in this world."

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