Nicole & Inara


It all started with my previous dog, Minnie.

Minnie was a little shitzu weighing only 9 lbs who always had the tip of her tongue sticking out. I called it The Blep.

I got Minnie from someone who wasn’t taking very good care of her. She was going to be put into a shelter as the owners didn’t have enough time for her. I had known Minnie since she was a puppy and so I decided to take her instead.

Minnie was my first dog, ever, and she grew up with me. She was there with me through it all: A six-year relationship breakup, a really bad car accident, the loss of my job when they went into bankruptcy, all combined into a very bad anxiety and depression.

Minnie was my rock.

One day, when I dropped her off at my mom’s - who used to take care of her while I worked - I noticed she was coughing. I didn’t think much of it at first as it wasn’t out of the ordinary. However, when I went to pick her up, her cough hadn’t gone away. I ended up calling the vet and having her checked up before going home, just to be safe.

What they discovered was a lump under her throat that was also affecting her breathing canal. They tried to treat her, they tried everything they could, but it was too late.

I lost Minnie that same day.

How I met my best friend photography project - Nicole and Inara in Ottawa, Ontario

Minnie’s Sign

Minnie’s passing turned my world upside down.

It was getting hard to cope and it was getting scary. I completely shut down, didn’t want to talk to anyone, didn’t want to work anymore and nobody could help me. I own my own business and ended up having to cancel most of my reservations that month. I was losing clients and wasn’t able to keep up with anything.

My mom, who got worried, found a litter online and pushed me to go see these “accidental puppies”. I refused, saying it was absolutely too soon and I felt too guilty to own another dog. However, with my mom insisting, I ended up agreeing to just see the puppies.

When we got there, the puppies were living in horrible conditions. The owners smoked in the house, there were ashes all over the carpet, the dogs were peeing and pooping inside the house and it wasn’t being cleaned up. You could tell this was the first time the owners had puppies and most likely the last as they looked so overwhelmed.

Inara was the second to last puppy I picked up.

When I looked at her, I noticed the tip of her tongue sticking out. She had a blep.

I knew right there and then that it was Minnie. She had sent me a sign.

How I met my best friend project - Nicole and Inara in Ottawa, Ontario

A New Hope

My life has changed completely since I got Inara (named after the character in the TV show Firefly). It’s been an upside down rocky road, but I was able to get out more. I moved out of my apartment, found a house to rent and started my doggy day care business: Wizard of Paws. Everything seemed to have fallen into place when I met her. I now do everything for her and with her. I find all the dog friendly stores that I can and even pay more to go to restaurants or stores that allow dogs - like Lululemon.

Inara forced me to have a life again.

Without her, I wouldn’t have moved into a house - which I needed to raise a big dog - and therefore wouldn’t have been able to start a dog daycare the way I have. She is making me discover new things and I found my love of hikes because of her. She opened my eyes and makes me feel like I have a purpose and a life worth living. Inara taught me that I can be on my own, that I don’t need to rely on anybody and that I can be happy.

How I met my best friend photography project - Nicole and Inara in Ottawa, Ontario

Nicole & Inara now have a new addition the the family: a pet snake.
Business has picked up again and they are living every day surrounded by many dog friends.

Minnie and her blep Photo Courtesy of Nicole

Minnie and her blep
Photo Courtesy of Nicole

Inara as a puppy when she first met Nicole  Photo Courtesy of Nicole

Inara as a puppy when she first met Nicole
Photo Courtesy of Nicole