TOBY AND FLYNT. Toronto, Ca.
"I struck a deal with Flynt, I promised him that I would eat, stay alive and look after him forever. Because of my upbringing it was hard for me to believe that I was even worthy of love, but Flynt was unrelenting in his affection towards me. My gender, something that had always been an issue for so many people in my life, was of no relevance or value to Flynt. It was clear that he needed me, that he loved me and that I was fun. Being needed and being loved brought me out of the darkness that I had been in for so long."
BUDDY, E-J AND BINKY (l -> r). Brighton, UK.
”I asked about Buddy and they brought him out for me to see. He was so scared he couldn't walk, he just dragged himself along the ground on his belly crying and then rolled up in a ball when I went near him. I didn't know if I'd even be able to get him home and really, it hit me, this was not like getting a dog, even a hurt dog. This was going to be an enormous commitment. But I couldn't leave him. He would have died. I realised that I just had to trust that good would triumph and if I didn't have faith, no-one would. So I took a deep breath and picked him up and took him back to town and went straight with him to my girlfriend and said here's your new little boy. She burst into tears.”
NALA, JOC AND HERSHY (l -> r). Toronto, Canada
"Here’s the real transformation for this year:
Two weeks ago my barber suggested that I be part of the DYWM photo project. I was ready to just laugh her off for even thinking about it, but the opportunity to show off how much I’ve grown to embrace myself and to show off my two wonderful dogs proved to be too much for me to pass up. When it comes to my family I am still firmly hidden in the back of the closet – somewhere behind the flannel and bow ties and every dress I ever hated – at least when it came to my not so easily definable gender.
So here I am with a photoshoot marked on my calendar for two weeks from now and that is my deadline to finally come out properly. To say that I am terrified would be something of an understatement but I want to do this so badly. I want people to know that Hershey and Nala have changed my life and continue to do so on a daily basis.
At some point in their lives, both of my dogs were cast out from their homes for reasons I will never know and that they would never understand. There are hundreds and thousands of animals in shelters that I wish I could rescue but at least I can take solace in the fact that my two wonderful dogs will never have to deal with the “don’t you want me?” question again because we’ve carved out homes for each other.
And hey, if coming out doesn’t go over well at least I know these two goofs will be by my side."
SAMANTHA, PAM, MOOSE AND STORM (l->r). Toronto, Canada
“The love of a dog who is terrified of everything is one of the most special and gratifying bonds imaginable. We are constantly helping each other grow and push past our hardships. Both Moose and Storm have also given us the opportunity to be part of an amazing community - Fetch and Releash. Both Samantha and I have struggled so much with finding our ground in the queer community, our experiences with mental health and addictions in a community largely enamoured with partying has being isolating. To be fortunate enough to meet people who support us and our dogs through all hardships has been one our most treasured experiences of rescuing.”
REUBEN AND LUNA. Brighton, UK.
“I do think that a part of me was trying to heal myself by taking care of someone else that was broken and forgotten, our new skinny, sick, terrified Lunie-bear. Going from being so scared to be left alone, not having a name or knowing how to walk on a lead to being her happy, balanced, wonderful self has been nothing short of a joy to behold. Taking a lead in her rehabilitation gave me the purpose and connection that I was craving. I'd say that Luna has been my most significant driver for continuing on even when things feel too much.”
FINCH AND FREYA. Brighton, UK.
"On days that I'm really struggling she can still make me happy or proud or laugh or less alone. And when she's anxious I can reassure her that the world is scary but she can do it because she has before and will again and just saying that out loud sometimes is a good reminder to me. Just seeing her be her awesome dorky self shows me that change is possible. Trauma is part of us and it's ok that sometimes it's too much and you have to shut down and run home and hide but we always get up again."
WILLIAM AND BELLA. Toronto, Canada
"I’ve been sober for 2 years and it’s no coincidence that Bella came into my life shortly before that. Staying sober had been a battle, now I rarely think about drinking. There were addiction issues in her previous family so understandably she’s nervous around drunk people and I promised to never let her down. I call her my sobriety dog. She’s had a massive impact on my anxiety and she’s by my side when I am going through dark moments. She’s very intune with people’s physical and emotional wellbeing and I take less medication as a direct result of having her in my life.
She saved me, I know it’s meant to be the other way round, but without a doubt, she saved me. The 3 best decisions I’ve made in my life are transition, sobriety and Bella."
AVI AND WARREN. Toronto, Canada
“I haven’t had a severe panic attack in over a year since I got Warren. I used to get multiple attacks per day.”