Sara and Stella Bella Bing Bong, Toronto
Identity: Lesbian/queer/lezzie/dyke/gay old married lady/Mum
'My wife and I have always had rescues.
Before we adopted Stella, we had Lindy until this past September when she died on her own terms in my arms (an incredible spirit in her own right especially when she visited veterans and people with special needs).
The period prior to adopting Stella I found myself in a bewildering place of endless painful isolating sleepless nights. I had two bike accidents within months of each other in 2014. I sustained concussions in both collisions which hadn't healed properly, in part because I have a genetic disorder called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome.
I'm an artist and have been an animator for Children's Television for over two decades but I have been disabled for seven years now. I have been trapped in near constant migraines day after day. While my family tried to comfort me, the nights of insomnia that go hand in hand with brain injury have been extremely lonely. With brain injury any screen activity can be very painful, so I couldn't go online for comfort, or company. Vision problems and ear ringing ruled out reading and podcasts. Every minute seemed like a torturous hour.
I’d always been involved in dog rescue and specifically with Rat Terrier Rescue Canada. I suggested to my wife that a pup be my gift for her birthday! My therapist said, "This on paper is a very bad idea, Sara. You cannot possibly manage this. However, you are animated for the first time in a year."
At the beginning Stella learned medicine pet skills: pressing herself against whomever needed her the most. Stella began to stay with me during my insomnia before she was a year old. The harder time I am having, the harder she presses against me. On a terrible migraine day, she is inseparable from me.
I've not returned to work yet. I've had some very big challenges, surgeries, and tragedies. I lost my voice as a result of a bad anaesthesiologist, and for over a year Stella just leaned in closer and adapted to raspy whispers while I learned to talk again. When I had to start using forearm crutches outside and a mobility device called an Alinker, I was worried she'd be bothered by them. She wasn't in the least. When I train on my Alinker, she runs by my side and it fills my heart with pure joy. I have become less focused on needing an assistive device and more joyful that we are joyful. She even sits with me stoically whilst I get outside on my Alinker and meditate. Yes the raw isolation of insomnia and neurodiversity remains isolating but this dog lives her life like the very gift it is every single day, and in doing so, reminds me to do the same.'