Viv and Linus, Toronto CAN 
Identity: Lesbian woman  

'I never planned on getting Linus, he just fell into my life suddenly, along with the woman who became my wife. Linus was very depressed, withdrawn and shut down when we got him. Something as natural as eating had become a major challenge for him. He spent most of his days hiding away from people and hiding away from life.

He came into my life around the same time that I came out - I had been very closeted and just like Linus, I had become a shell of the person I am today. It feels like we embarked on a journey together, going through similar stages and facing similar challenges. He’s taught me so much but mostly that first appearances can often be deceiving, and that patience and kindness build trust, and trust is everything.

Linus forced me to not rely on unhealthy coping mechanisms as much, and to look for better options. His presence forces me to manage my anger and stress better and in healthier, more productive ways. It’s like I have a living, external barometer of how unhealthy I’m being and to make his life better, I adjust my own behavior.

It was a whirlwind of a time adjusting to our new life but we got through it together as a family, and now own a queer (and dog) friendly bar in Toronto. I do work that I love for my community. Linus has brought such balance and guidance to my life. There’s far less time for self-indulgence when a dog depends on you for everything. 

Linus is still very sensitive to anger and raised voices - but I don’t think that’s a bad thing, I think as a society, we should be sensitive to these things and, in fact, do everything we can to challenge them.'

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