NANAIMO -- What you are about to read began with just one plush dragon.

"Oh! He’s so cute!" Gord recalls thinking when he first spotted the toy. "He became my little mascot."

Gord named him Petey. A while later he noticed another TY-brand Beanie Baby dragon at a local thrift store.

"He kind of roared at me!" Gord says, making a high-pitched roar sound. "And I’m thinking, 'A friend for Petey!'"

Gord’s collection of two dragons eventually included many more. He named them all.

"This is Arthur. This is Socket," Gord says, reading the names he’s written in black ink on their labels. "And this one over here is Violet."

Thanks to friends, family, and the internet, Gord has collected dozens of dragons, which he plays with regularly.

"Where is it written that when I turn 40 I have to give up my stuffed animals and stop having fun?" Gord says in mock indignation, before flying one of his dragons around. "If I want to roar, I’m going to bloody well go roar!"

Then one night at a mutual friend’s party, Gord’s dragon roared at a woman named Emily.

"He put [the dragon] right on my knee and said, 'Hi! My name’s Scorchy!'" Emily recalls.

Emily was unsure how to respond and just continued on. A few months later, she happened to meet Gord again, without the dragon.

"We actually got a chance to have a real, more adult, conversation," Emily smiles. "We hit if off."

One thing led to another. Now Emily and Gord live together with more than 150 dragons around their home. During the interview, they seemed to be sitting on every surface, from the back of the couch to the kitchen counters.

"They’re kind of our kids in a way," Gord says.

If you take a scroll through their family Facebook page — Gord and Emily’s Dragons — you’ll find photos of them celebrating birthdays with the dragons, visiting Santa with the dragons, and providing colour commentary for Roomba vacuum races with the dragons.

"It’s unique. It’s harmless," Emily says. "It’s good clean fun!"

It’s a creative way to keep the couple connected through life’s inevitable ups and downs.

"It just seemed really natural to include the dragons as part of [our medieval-style wedding]," Emily says.

The dragons played multiple roles during the nuptials and reception, from table settings to ring bearers. One even hatched from a chocolate egg on top of the wedding cake.

"It just adds a little bit of fun to our lives, and whimsy," Emily smiles.

Which is why Emily and Gord also include the dragons in potentially mundane parts of life. They’ve posted pictures of dragons helping them make meals, accompanying them to the salon to get their haircut, and going to the dentist to get their teeth cleaned.

The dragons have also helped make the pandemic feel more positive for their friends and family.

"A little bit of joy has been taken away from the world [because of COVID-19]," Gord says. "I really hope we can add a little bit more joy."