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The Ralph Site - pet loss support

Welcome to The Ralph Site Blog

Hello, and welcome to The Ralph Site Blog.

We celebrate the unique place that pets have in our lives through regular features and practical advice on pet bereavement and other animal-related matters.

Pet loss support

The Ralph Site is a non-profit online pet loss support resource which provides support to pet carers coping with the loss of a beloved companion. There are a website and an active Facebook community with a public page and a private group.

Pet carers’ community

The Ralph Site aims to provide a non-judgmental and supportive place for those pet carers who have lost a much-loved member of the family. We know all too well the pain and heartbreak that accompanies the passing of your pet. And whilst these pets can never be replaced, we may find room to enrich our lives further with others when the time is right.

At The Ralph Site, we understand the special bond between you and your pets.

Thank you for your support.

 

Tell us in Ten with Nichola Rose

In the latest of our series of mini interviews with friends of The Ralph Site we heard from Nichola Rose, who has given us some wise words of advice for anyone experiencing the loss of a much-loved companion.

1. Do you currently share your home with any pets? If so, please tell us about them.

I have a beautiful Maltese Shitzhu called Archie who is 23 weeks old. He is very cheeky, loves biting feet, eating and sleeping. He is white with black and brown ears and is very cute!

2.What was the name of your first pet?

The first pet who lived with me was called Oscar – an Irish Red Setter who was beautiful inside and out. He was quite a boisterous, naughty dog but he was very loving.

3.Why did you choose the name?

After Oscar we had a Maltese shitzhu all white with apricot ears, called Ozzie – partly because I had a Yorkshire terrier when I was a kid called Ozzie, and also because he was our first dog here in Australia!

4.Cats, dogs, or another species? Can you choose?! And why?

Definitely a dog for me, I’ve never shared my home with a cat and I just love dogs. I love the relationship and bond that you can form with them – they give you so much joy. I love the walks, the cuddling and looking after them like they are babies!

5.What is your favourite memory of an animal who has shared your life?

My favourite memories are with my most special little dog, Ozzie. I remember having afternoon naps with him and taking him to the beach in the car he loved so much. He was my special little man! I used to call him Babiez.

6.Which three words would you choose to describe him?

Perfect, beautiful and gentle.

7.What is your favourite fictional animal and why?

Lassie. She always came to the rescue and I used to love watching the films as a child, they always made me cry.

8.If you could be any animal, which one would you choose and why?

I’d like to be a dog in a loving home, with lots of bones and endless playtime!

9.What advice would you give to someone who is grieving for a much-loved pet?

I would say be kind to yourself, although at the time of losing a loved fur baby that is very hard to do. You are so consumed with grief it takes over your whole being. It’s one of the hardest times in life, losing that beautiful unconditional love and it leaves a massive hole in your world. Time helps you to live with the loss, but it never goes away. Always keep your pet’s memory alive and remember the funny things they used to do to make you smile.

10.When and how did you come across The Ralph Site? What do you think is the most important role of The Ralph Site community?

I first came across The Ralph Site when I lost my beautiful Ozzie in July 2017. It’s the first time I have lost a pet as an adult and it devastated my world – I cried oceans and my health deteriorated. Life changes so much and the struggle is so hard without them. Every day I think of Ozzie and I still speak to him often. I wonder what he thinks about Archie living with us now, although of course, he will always be my special babiez.
A friend told me about the website and it has really helped to have people I can chat to who are in the same position as me. Sometimes grief can be a lonely place and feeling that you are not alone is key, I think The Ralph Site helps so much to combat that loneliness.

We feature regular mini-interviews with friends of The Ralph Site; so do keep an eye out each month!

Until next time, very best wishes from Shailen and The Ralph Site team
The Ralph Site, non-profit pet loss support

We all need somebody to lean on

Those of us who have shared even a small part of our lives with a much-loved animal friend will carry the experience with us forever. And yet just as we find joy in the memories of happy times shared together, the pain of saying goodbye and the gaping hole left behind are also indelibly stamped on our hearts.

Sometimes the visceral pull of grief feels almost too much to bear. And whilst there is no magic button to press to make everything feel better, each of us is stronger than we know. Endurance and fortitude are uniquely human traits, helping us overcome the pain and sorrow whilst always retaining the sense of loss that reminds us of the depth of connection we shared.

At times like these, it is helpful to speak with someone who really understands what you are going through, who has a small sense of what you’re feeling. You may have sympathetic friends or family who have lost their own pets, and talking over how you feel with them will provide some small comfort. However, if you feel there is nobody you can share your thoughts and feelings with, we have put together a list of experienced Pet Bereavement Counsellors from across the country who may be able to help you work through the grieving process.
Please note that whilst we provide details for your convenience, we are unable to directly endorse or recommend these individual services, and you may also wish to research other alternatives to suit your own preferences and requirements.

In addition, there is also plenty of support and advice to be found in the Counselling Directory, the UK’s largest database of registered professional counsellors. Here you’ll find answers to any questions you may have about how counselling works, and which type of approach might be best for you if you do decide to seek professional help. You can also search for pet bereavement counsellors near you.

The Blue Cross provides an excellent free resource, the Pet Bereavement Support Service. Its support line can be accessed free from landlines (some mobile networks may charge) in the UK and Northern Ireland on 0800 096 6606, and is open from 8.30am – 8.30pm every day. More details can be found here.

You might also like to join The Ralph Site’s private Facebook support group where you can discuss how you feel about your pet’s passing in a confidential and safe environment. Membership of this private group is by approval only; however, all you need to do is click on the link here and leave a request to join.

Please don’t ever feel that you should be able to cope on your own – there is no need to suffer in silence. Each of us needs someone to share our thoughts and feelings with sometimes, and without acknowledging and expressing the pain we feel we may simply be storing up future problems. According to recent statistics from Mind, as many as 1 in 4 people will experience some kind of mental health problem each year. And we all know that bereavement is widely acknowledged to be one of the most traumatic experiences to go through. Well-meaning friends may tell you that “it’s only a dog” and encourage you to get another one – not everyone understands the deep bond that we form with our pets. You will know when, indeed if, the time is right to bring another animal into your life, and it will never be to replace an old friend, rather make a new one.

Until next time, best wishes from Shailen and The Ralph Site team
The Ralph Site, non-profit pet loss support

Please note: The Ralph Site is not affiliated with the third-party organisations in any of the links shared here, and the views, ideas and suggestions expressed in this and other blogs are simply shared with the intention of helping you, our friends, take care of the special animals in your lives.

Animals in the news this month (Sept 2017)

In the last week of every month we take a look back at the crazy creatures and amazing animals that have made the headlines in recent weeks. Here’s a reminder of what September’s headlines told us about some of the animals that share our planet:

Fabulous Frida

Following the devastating earthquakes experienced in Mexico this month, we’ve learned of the amazing efforts of Frida, the rescue Labrador Retriever. Working with the Mexican Navy’s search and rescue team, seven-year old Frida has now saved the lives of 52 people in total, including many trapped in rubble following the recent quakes and aftershocks felt in Mexico City and across the state of Oaxaca. Wearing protective goggles and boots, Frida is able to access areas human colleagues often cannot, sniffing out people trapped under debris and alerting the rescue services as to where to focus their efforts.
When her expertise is not required in the field, Frida also works with newly recruited young rescue dogs, showing them just how to do it. Frida, we salute you!

Beavering away

In heart-warming wildlife news this month, we learn that the Forestry Commission is preparing to release a family of beavers into a fenced reserve close to Lydbrook in the Forest of Dean. The village suffered severe flooding in 2012 and experts hope that the network of dams and canals the beavers will construct will help slow the flow of Greathough Brook, thus reducing the potential for future flooding downstream. Scientists calculate that each beaver family’s constructions can hold back as much as 6,000 cubic meters of water and can therefore play a major role in controlling water damage. Beavers are no longer native to the UK, having been driven to extinction around 400 years ago. However, with a number of government-backed schemes nationwide showing that the animals can have an important effect, it is hoped that before too long, beavers will once again thrive along our waterways.

Until next time, very best wishes from Shailen and The Ralph Site team
The Ralph Site, non-profit pet loss support

Tell us in Ten with Lynn Morgan

In the latest of our series of mini interviews with friends of The Ralph Site we heard from Lynn Morgan, who has given us some wise words of advice for anyone experiencing the loss of a much-loved companion.

1. Do you currently share your home with any pets? If so, please tell us about them.

I live with two beautiful cats, Penny and Beau. They are both five years old now, rescued as kittens from Lothian Cat Rescue. Beau chose me – he clambered on to a cat tree to eye level and started purring in my face. His and my fates were sealed! I wanted to choose another but the little one I picked was promised to someone else, so I gave the choice to my husband. He said that he chose Penny because she looked at him with Princess Diana eyes!

She is mouthy and demanding and will shout at me all night to play; then she settles down on my legs until they go numb. Beau prefers his own company but he certainly is no scaredy cat – he patrols the wall in the evenings and makes short shift of any invaders. They are the two most loving cats – friendly to everyone who visits, and all who meet them fall in love.

2. What was the name of your first pet?

My first pet was a kitten called Tilly, a little black and white girl, the runt of the litter. She was the tiniest thing, who even at her largest only weighed 2kgs. She was a moody little madam though – she didn’t like people or other cats, but she loved me, chirruping and dancing on her toes when she saw me.

3. Why did you choose the name?

I got to choose a kitten from my friend – she had two pregnant cats and Tilly came from the second one to give birth. She was so small that I knew she had to be mine. My friend’s eldest daughter is called Matilda and when I thought of Tilly, it just felt right.

4. Cats, dogs, or another species? Can you choose?! And why?

For many years I was a dog person – when I was a young girl there was Sheba, a German Shepherd and as a teenager we had Cindy, a Shetland Collie.

I always thought I’d have a dog of my own, never a cat, but living in a flat and working in the city it never seemed fair to have a dog, so decided I would not have a pet at all. Then Tilly came into my life and I became a mad cat lady! When she left me, I knew I would have cats again, that’s just how it is now. Maybe when Penny and Beau are no longer with me and I am an old lady I may rescue many old dogs and cats, and rats and mice and chickens and anything else that will fit into the flat with me!

5. What is your favourite memory of an animal who has shared your life?

There are so many of course…

  •  Sheba loved a doll of mine – she would steal it from my doll’s pram and take it to her bed where she would lick and cuddle her. She never left so much as a tooth print though, she was so tender.
  • Cindy always walked on the lead like a little pony, lifting her legs in a sort of trot. She also used to look at everybody around and her face just beamed.
  • Tilly – the first night she came home with us I had made a little bed for her in a warm cupboard with the door ajar. As I went to bed I could hear her mewing, so I went to check on her but she was already on her way to me! She slept on my pillow all night; I don’t think I got a wink of sleep!
  • Penny was always dragging her favourite toy around the house, following me. She would only drop it to shout (or perhaps swear!) at me to play.
  • Beau escaped when he was tiny and I was frantic because I couldn’t find him. Eventually I spotted him at the top of a very tall fir tree. I called my husband to come home with ladders (he was not amused), but of course by the time he got home the little so-and-so was tucking into breakfast, wondering what the fuss was about!

6. Which three words would you choose to describe them?

Penny: Madam, bully, sweetheart
Beau: Perfection, lazy, greedy

7. What is your favourite fictional animal and why?

The Littlest Hobo. It was on the TV when I was a child and when we had Sheba they were both German Shepherds; both loving and caring, protective and intelligent.

8. If you could be any animal, which one would you choose and why?

My favourite animals (apart from cats and dogs) have always been foxes and tigers. Both species are so beautiful, clever and independent.

9. What advice would you give to someone who is grieving for a much-loved pet?

Advice is difficult, because we all have different experiences and stories, but the key thing would be to take your time, let all the emotions come out, whenever and wherever you are. Don’t feel embarrassed or have expectations to be ‘over it’ in a certain time. Try to keep guilt at bay – this is almost impossible, but at least don’t dwell on the ‘what ifs’. Remember all the happy times, look at the photos and howl at the moon if necessary. Then once the rawness has subsided, check out a rescue site, because you just never know…

10. When and how did you come across The Ralph Site? What do you think is the most important role of The Ralph Site community?

To be honest I can’t quite remember how I came across The Ralph Site. I do know that I had only just lost Tilly and was in a state of shock and distress – I could barely go ten minutes without breaking down in tears. I had posted on Facebook that she was gone and of course kept going back to see the messages. Once I found The Ralph Site’s Facebook page, I spent every waking moment reading others’ stories. It was a hard time, but in the end it really helped me, and I think I have helped others. There have been times (and there still are) when it overwhelms me and I leave the group for a while, but I always come back, even if it’s just to say sorry.

The most important aspect for me is the people. Although the community is now very large and I don’t know 99% of the names, the experiences have not changed. There is no judgement, no harsh words. We are all the same – kind-hearted people who love animals, our own pets and each other’s and that is a rare thing to find anywhere.

We’ll be featuring regular mini-interviews with friends of The Ralph Site in future; so do keep an eye out every first and third week of each month!

Until next time, very best wishes from Shailen and The Ralph Site team
The Ralph Site, non-profit pet loss support

Remembering Special Friends Online

Friends of The Ralph Site will not be surprised to find that one of the most popular sections of our website is our Memorials page.

Online Pet Memorials

Hundreds of people have already uploaded photos and memories of their special friends; who may be gone, but are in no way forgotten. Posting images and stories of those who played such a large part in our lives, and who continue to live on in our hearts and memories, helps to give these much-loved pets a continued presence. And for other carers who have gone through the same grief, sharing kind words and a virtual hug is one small way in which they can make a big difference to those whose pets have crossed the Rainbow Bridge.

When the time comes, if you find that you want to share your own memories on The Ralph Site, it’s very easy to add a memorial. You can find more details here.
You must log in or register with the site in order to post your memorial, but there is no time limit, so posts can be added as and when you feel ready to leave your pet’s story. Currently we regret that technical issues are preventing memorials being posted from smartphone and tablets, so please use a laptop or desktop computer to add your memories (we are happy to post for you if this is not possible).

Facebook Community

For three years after they have passed away, your pet’s memorial will be featured on our Facebook page on the anniversary day of his or her passing. Our many Facebook friends tell us that they value this shared community space, where pet carers share their feelings and offer advice to anyone feeling angry, sad or frustrated in their loss. Others often add poignant and sensitive posts and comments, which help bereaved pet carers understand that they are not alone in their grief.

You might also like to know that we have created a private Facebook support group to complement our main Facebook page. This group currently has over 2,000 members, so by joining you’ll be able to communicate with people who can share a wide range of experiences and coping techniques. As you may be aware, Facebook groups work differently to pages – allowing people who may be struggling to create on-going supportive links with others in the group. Notifications alert members when others have posted or commented, developing a mutually beneficial support network to help with the heartache of pet loss.

Our experience is that some people may be reluctant to share publically how they feel about their pet’s passing on an open page – this private Facebook group therefore allows anybody wishing to become more involved to interact with friends in a confidential and safe environment. Membership of this private group is by request only; all you need to do is click on the link here and leave a request to join.

And if you aren’t already Facebook friends with us, why not join the 43,000 others who have liked our page? As well as featuring daily memorials, we post news and items of interest to pet carers, share inspirational quotes and feature heart warming pictures, encouraging our friends to do the same.
Because after all, a problem shared is a problem halved.

Until next time, very best wishes from Shailen and The Ralph Site team
The Ralph Site

Please note: The Ralph Site is not affiliated with the third-party organisations in any of the links shared here, and the views, ideas and suggestions expressed in this and other blogs are simply shared with the intention of helping you, our friends, take care of the special animals in your lives.