Nova Scotia

How a dog named Dexter led this man to Nova Scotia — his new happy place

Yogi Sundaravadanam left Toronto for Nova Scotia during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dexter, his dog friend, played a role in his move.

‘Dexter always convinces me to walk outside, to feel the sun and to just breathe,’ says Yogi Sundaravadanam

Yogi Sundaravadanam, Rishi, middle, and Dexter love their walks in Lawrencetown, N.S. (Carolina Andrade for CBC)

In the middle of winter, in the middle of a pandemic, where do you go to find joy? Maybe it's a physical spot, or a memory. Our new Happy Place series explores both.

Yogi Sundaravadanam immigrated to Toronto from Australia. During the pandemic, a dog named Dexter helped lead him east. He's found a new happy place in Nova Scotia.

Here's his story. Photos by Carolina Andrade.

Living through the pandemic is incredibly difficult and it's harder for some than others. As an immigrant to this great country, without any family around, the old saying that friends are like family rings very true. My closest friends are those that have been there for me through everything.

I met Dexter's fur dad four years ago through a mutual friend. Dexter, in case you are wondering, is a big cuddly Bernese mountain bear dog. Occupying a big chunk of my heart, Dexter has kept me very sane the past year, in my otherwise anxious and stressful life.

'Occupying a big chunk of my heart, Dexter has kept me very sane the past year, in my otherwise anxious and stressful life,' says Sundaravadanam. (Carolina Andrade for CBC)

I've always been a huge dog lover, but Dexter is special. Rishi, my pup, rescued from the streets of Mysuru, India, also shares an incredible bond with him. Rishi's first week in Toronto was definitely one of the hardest, scariest and downright confusing times of his life. Dexter welcomed Rishi when I adopted him. Rishi was an annoying little friend and always pushed his way through for my affection, but Dexter has always been the gracious and patient big boy!

When Dexter's dad decided to move to Nova Scotia, there was only one solution left to be near him. Hastily, I asked my manager if I could work remotely from Nova Scotia, packed my bags, got rid of my apartment and drove 1,800 kilometres with Rishi to Lawrencetown.

'I am so grateful for my boys showing me the most sincere support and unconditional love,' says Sundaravadanam. (Carolina Andrade for CBC)

As an extrovert, I receive energy and personal fulfilment through social interaction, which sadly has come to a halt because of COVID-19 restrictions. I am so grateful for my boys showing me the most sincere support and unconditional love.

I take myself too seriously sometimes, work a lot and spend too much time glued to the laptop. Dexter and Rishi are a constant reminder about what's truly important. With a gentle paw gesture, Dexter always convinces me to walk outside, to feel the sun and to just breathe, relax and appreciate everything around us.

You are a wonderful companion to both Rishi and me.

'Dexter and Rishi are a constant reminder about what's truly important,' says Sundaravadanam. (Carolina Andrade for CBC)

Every morning — my favourite time of the day — Rishi, Dexter and I hike. It's a time to think, reflect and feel grateful, absorbing all the great things this beautiful province has to offer. We are always greeted by friendly faces, and it makes me wonder if I can ever go back to living in Toronto again! Probably not.

Dexter, thank you for your constant love and playfulness, and for showing me the simple pleasures of life. I would have never experienced the Maritime life if not for you. Most of all, thank you for being my light during hard times. I know you feel the love when you look straight into my eyes. Sometimes, you don't need words.

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