The Downtown Couple & Their Toronto Chow Chow, Oso
By The Get Leashed Doggy Style Team
Many people we meet have been lifelong dog lovers, often with their hearts set on a particular breed. For Iris, that special breed was always a Chow Chow. After her fiancé, Jovi, was instructed to bring home the smallest puppy in the litter to fit their downtown condo lifestyle, he returned with the biggest, fluffiest boy there was! After all, who could resist Oso’s cuteness? He has become a fixture along Toronto’s Harbourfront, frequently getting stopped for his good looks and friendly nature. We caught up with this couple — who are planning their upcoming wedding — and thought, ‘how have we never featured a Chow until now?’ Read on as we get to know Iris & Jovi and their bilingual bear.
Please tell us about yourself, your profession, and what a typical work day is like.
Jovi and Iris met 11 years ago and have been enjoying life together ever since. After some pressure from our families (in unison saying: GET MARRIED ALREADY!) we finally decided to tie the knot next year in the Dominican Republic. Iris is a Reporting Analyst for an IT Company (Fujitsu) and Jovi does Security for TD Towers (Cadillac Fairview). We live in the waterfront community about a 15 minute walk away from each of our work places. Ever since we got Oso, Iris has been working from home A LOT.
So a typical day involves Jovi going off to work in the morning, then as soon as he leaves, Iris gets woken up by Oso to go hunt down Jovi, because how dare he leave without us!? Iris wakes up to walk Oso by the waterfront where he can play with all his neighborhood friends. We head over to Williams Café (the only dog-friendly café where you can eat indoors with your dog — come on Toronto we should have more of these!) and then we head home and mom works while Oso naps. Around 4-5 pm we go either to Roundhouse Park (behind the CN Tower) or Clarence Square Dog Park. If we go to Clarence Square mom goes shopping at Winners/Homesense/Marshalls near the park (again, thanks to one of the only retailers that allow dogs!). We then head over to pick up Jovi from work and walk home together. Iris is an awesome chef and baker and makes dinner while Oso eats his raw patties from Barkside Bistro.
Please tell us a bit about Oso. How did he come into your life? Is there a story behind the name or particular breed?
After deciding to have an extended engagement (aka procrastination), we decided to get a puppy! Iris has always wanted a Chow since she first laid eyes on one. Chow Chows are an ancient breed of dog; they were first documented as Mongolian War dogs and were the guard dog of Emperors in China (so those lion-like sculptures you see in front of Chinese restaurants are actually Chows!). Another fun fact is that the original teddy bears were modeled after Queen Victoria’s Chow Chow puppy that she carried everywhere. They are the closest descendants to wolves and possess blue-black tongues. Legend states the reason for the colored tongue was that when God painted the night sky, the Chow is the dog that cleaned up after God and licked the drops of paint that fell to the ground.
We got Oso from a family in North York. They had a litter and I asked Jovi to select the runt of the litter as we live in a small condo. Of course he choose the largest boy in the bunch stating “well he was the cutest and we got more poundage for our dollar!” Oso looked like a bear when we first got him so we named him Oso which means “bear” in Spanish. Also when people ask about his name I tell them it’s because he is “o so” fluffy! But don’t be fooled by the fluffiness because Chows are not the “cuddly” type of dog. They are fiercely loyal, strong, silent, proud, independent (often compared to a cat) and stubborn like a bull (Jovi’s zodiac sign). Oso loves meeting new people and dogs and he struts around Toronto like he owns the city!
How would you describe your personal style?
Jovi’s style is very utilitarian and basic. Iris is flirty, feminine and stylish. Oso’s style is regal and edgy.
How would you describe the look and feel of your home?
Quirky Glam. Iris decorates and has a lot of silver accents but in quirky figures like the giant, ceiling-height, chrome cactus in the living room, a bedazzled elephant (that faces the door for good luck) or the metal penguin holding a replica rifle lighter (to light Iris’ candles of course!). Iris loves thrifting and DIY. Her favorite thrifted piece is a small silver and brass steam trunk used to store documents that doubles as a side table.
What does your ideal weekend look like?
We are both huge foodies! So previously we always tried new restaurants but now we stick to festivals so Oso can come too. Our typical weekend is a morning trip to the St. Lawrence Market for a breakfast of peameal bacon sandwiches and produce shopping, then we then usually go to Harbourfront Centre or for a walk around Kensington for street eats! Oso always gets accidentally “fallen” food from Jovi!
What inspires you?
Happiness. I am inspired by happy people and what makes people happy. This translates to so many things in terms of lifestyle, relationships, work, art and most importantly, happiness inspires us to be good human beings.
Finally, can you leave us with a funny story about Oso?
Oso loves Iris’ shoes, and has expensive taste because he always goes for the leather and suede! One morning Iris woke up and found four pairs of shoes Oso had been using for chew practice during the night and got upset. She started scolding him, Oso ran to the bedroom door and started to scratch at it to wake up Jovi to help him out! As soon as Jovi opened the door Oso ran behind him for cover! All Jovi said was, “I can’t help you Oso! I’m scared of her too!”
Follow Oso on Instagram @TorontoChowChow