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Nov. 30, 2021 | Tuesday
Local News
A man and his dog: Carson and Stella
Carson and Stella with his horse. (Brittany Carter/Niagara Now)

Carson Tucker and Stella are local celebrities. Or — as Tucker corrects — Stella is a celebrity.

A man and his dog, they are two of a kind — rarely will one be seen without the other. Having been side-by-side for seven years, Tucker said he often plans activities in his life around whether Stella can come along.

“A lot of the things I do are pretty much geared around if I can bring her with me. There’s a lot of things I haven’t done in my life, but I don’t feel like I’ve missed out. I’ve had opportunities to do things with her instead. I wouldn’t trade that for anything,” he said.

At ease around horses too, Tucker has been around them his whole life. His family was always involved with them, and Tucker's dad was interested in horse racing, he recalls. “We’ve got pictures of me being held on (the race horses) as a young baby.”

That comfort eventually led Tucker to become a driver for the local horse carriages. Accepting the position was a natural step, he said, and it turned into a full-time, six years of being a carriage driver for Sentineal Carriages in town. Stella was along for the ride daily. Over those years driving the carriages, the two became known across town. Tucker said it was because of Stella.

“I’m pretty friendly and I’m from right downtown Niagara-on-the-Lake, I knew a lot of people. It was kind of iconic having her with me, she just brings it all together. I definitely get a lot of joy from making others happy and doing things for other people. Being on the carriages, the best feeling is when people would tell me that I made their entire trip or made their day. That was kind of the most exciting part of it.”

Three years ago Tucker made a career switch, and now works in construction as a subcontractor.

“It’s been a bit of a transition not having her with me. It’s so different from what I was doing. Especially not having Stella all day."

He also volunteers as a firefighter in town.

He said working with his hands, construction is a little more pertinent to firefighting — which he hopes to one day do full-time. He has always been focused on volunteering and being involved in the community, the career path to firefighter opened up for him and he said it just felt right.

“I just kind of walked into it, and then I fell in love with it. Now I’m pursuing it as a full-time career.”

He currently volunteers at Station 3 in Virgil, taking courses in the meantime. Stella comes with him every Monday. It’s one of the most rewarding things he’s experienced, he said.

“With firefighting you’re showing up for people who are probably having the worst day of their life. No one really calls 911 casually. It’s going to be one of the worst calls you’re going to have to make.

I try to be able to live with myself and be able to go to sleep every day knowing that I did my best in helping someone out, as opposed to doing things for more selfish reasons.

“I have been lucky enough where I haven’t seen anything too traumatic, but that’s part of the job. Taking care of yourself as well as being dedicated to your career is challenging. You could say that for any job but especially something like firefighting, it’s something you have to be aware of.”

Aside from the various volunteer programs through the fire station, he is also a Big Brother and a coach for a house-league soccer team in St. Catharines.

Above all else, he’s an avid animal lover who wants to help people.

He grew up in St. Catharines but moved to NOTL about eight years ago. He said he doesn’t plan on leaving for the foreseeable future, although he has been applying for firefighting positions across Ontario.

Stella keeps him active. He said he would have a harder time getting out in the winter and running early in the morning if he didn’t have to take care of her. He said he’s awake at 4:30 a.m. every morning.

As much as helping other people, he said it’s important to stay focused and try to be a good friend to himself. Helping others while also trying to move forward with his life can be challenging.

The biggest compliment he said he receives about his animals is when people say how well-behaved they are. Stella is a shining bit of evidence.

Proud of his relationships with friends and family as well, he said it’s all about making lifestyle choices you can live with.

“I’m more proud of the circle I’ve built and the lifestyle that I’m living. I’m taking care of myself and my friends and family. Also helping out the community and making healthy lifestyle choices.”

As someone who is always trying to become the best version of himself, he said he strives to do better every day.

“My biggest challenge is trying not to compare myself to where other people are in their life. I’m trying to compare myself with who I was yesterday — as opposed to who I want to be or where other people are. Constantly trying to work on yourself bit by bit and helping other people when you can. It’s the one thing in my life that has been able to make me feel full and confident; remembering that every day."

"Being able to live with yourself at the end of the day is the biggest thing.”

The relationships he has cultivated with the people in his life have helped to make him the man he is, his relationship with Stella though is something he said can’t accurately be put into words.

“It’s the best relationship you could ever have. Basically, what I’ve put into the relationship with Stella, I’ve gotten back tenfold. She’s your buddy. It’s a pretty special relationship to have. Anyone with a dog, especially if it’s your dog only, you can’t even put that relationship into words. It’s a special bond you have. You two are right on the same wavelength.”

It’s no secret that Tucker and Stella are best friends, that friendship spills over into all other aspects of his life.