Diann Wears and Cow have a very special bond.
When they first met in Cincinnati in 2014, Diann was struggling to piece her life together after overcoming addiction and escaping a life of sex trafficking, while Cow had spent her life in a crate with a neglectful owner.
“She was so withdrawn,” Diann told Toledo newspaper The Blade. Cow was thin, with red, sore paws from living in her own filth. Diann agreed to take the boxer-mix, despite not having a place to stay for herself.
Since then, Cow has become a lifeline for 51-year-old Diann, who is currently homeless on the streets of Toledo.
“Cow doesn’t know about my life, but she knows when I need her,” she said. “She gives me kisses and nudges me to get me out of it. It might take a while, but she does get me out of it.”
Diann, 51, spent her early childhood years travelling around military bases in the United States and Germany, and after leaving school in the 10th grade, was kicked out of her family home at 18. She then married young and wound up back in Ohio, where she married young, had a daughter, and divorced after just two years.
When the courts granted her ex-husband custody of her young daughter, Diann fell into addiction and sex trafficking just to get by.
It was in Indiana that Diann decided she was done with that life, and returned to Ohio, where she met Cow.
Diann suffers from mental illness as a result of her traumatic past and Cow, she says, instinctively knows when she needs comfort and can pull her out from dark places. That’s why Diann has refused to let her dog go, despite the fact that having a dog makes finding shelter and housing significantly more challenging.
Diann and Cow were able to check into a Red Roof Inn for a week, but many homeless shelters don’t allow animals. This has been a topic off controversy in many cities in North America.
Now, Diann is trying to have Cow registered as an emotional support animal, citing her mental illness as the reason. If that happens, it will become much easier for Diann to find housing for herself and Cow, which she says is non-negotiable.
“It’s been hard, but I’m not leaving her behind and I’m not giving her up,” she said.
And she has made some progress – having recently obtained a letter of recommendation from her counselor, suggesting an emotional support animal could be of great help with her mental disabilities.
For now, Diann and Cow are taking things day by day, and staying optimistic, since this isn’t the first time she’s overcome difficulty in her life.
“I thank God that I’ve survived it all,” she said.
All photos by The Blade/Andy Morrison