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Love Lives Here: A Tale Of Three Tails

When Sylvie least expected it, three new family members redefined family, community and love for her and her husband.
Love Lives Here: A Tale Of Three Tails
In partnership withPet Valu logo

As told to Nadine Araksi

When my husband, Mike, and I left bustling Toronto in late 2016 for a quieter life in Sussex, N.B., little did we know we were choosing more than a new hometown. We hoped Sussex would provide an ideal community for us to plant roots and forge entrepreneurial paths. What awaited us was an experience that would redefine love, home and community in ways we never imagined.

As we settled into our new life, we’d sometimes visit the local Pet Valu to chat with the staff and enjoy a serotonin boost courtesy of the sweet would-be adoptees. Then, in February 2020, we walked in and met Charlie. His calm vibe in the busy store made him impossible to resist, marking the start of our adventures in pet ownership and a newfound understanding of what it means to care deeply.

A pause for paws

Soon after, COVID-19 shut the world down. With the recent move, our new home was still sparsely furnished, but the sounds of Charlie’s purrs and padded paws filled the space with joy and comfort. As we got to know him during lockdown, we sensed he might enjoy a friend, so in March 2022 we found Chester through a local rescue that often hosts events at our local Pet Valu.

Love Lives Here: A Tale Of Three Tails

While the world continued to navigate “unprecedented times,” we knew our businesses also had to adapt. Our home, zoned for residential and commercial use, serendipitously allowed us to move my crystal shop to the main floor and Mike to set up his EnerQi Healing practice upstairs. While Charlie basked in the new attention he got in the shop, Chester preferred the quiet of the basement—their distinct personalities quickly teaching us about patience and the diverse ways of giving and receiving love.

One fateful night

We had successfully created the life we hoped for, and yet our family felt incomplete. That is, until a routine run for cat food in December 2022 resulted in a twist of fate. There, at our trusty Pet Valu, Mike stumbled upon a cat who instantly won his heart. But by the time I was able to get there, the cat had already been adopted. Sensing my disappointment, the Pet Valu staff told me the cat’s sibling was at a local rescue centre they often work with. Fearing another lost opportunity, I raced over—and fell utterly in love with Opal. We rang in the new year as a family of five.

Love Lives Here: A Tale Of Three Tails

Finding family, creating community

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On every visit to Pet Valu, whether for a toy or food, we’ve found helpful advice and friendly conversation with folks who share our love for pets. They’ve watched our family grow and become part of our town’s larger story of community care. Charlie, Chester and Opal quickly became local celebrities, providing comfort to those who’ve lost pets, a playful distraction for visiting kids, and a much-needed smile for many.

Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that walking into a pet store on a whim would redefine the concept of family and home for me. I grew up believing pets were just companions—little did I know that Charlie, Chester and Opal would teach me about love, resilience and the beauty of community. Our cats have woven themselves into our daily lives, showing us that love truly lives here—in every purr, playful chase and moment shared.

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