In the latest of our series of mini interviews with friends of The Ralph Site we heard from Barbara Nunnemacher, 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 one-year-old German Shepherd – her name is Hannah and she is a bundle of energy! She can be challenging in this ‘teen period’ so I do have to remind myself that it is just a phase she is going through. I went through a similar experience with my other two GSDs and they both were amazing fur children. Hannah will get there too.
Then there are my indoor cats:
Allie and Abbie, two baby Torties who were rescue kittens.
Sandman is blonde and Andie a muted Calico – they think they own the house, and that’s OK!
We also have four barn cats and I have seven orphaned kittens living in my greenhouse. On the farm we have four horses, a donkey and twenty five chickens, with two goats coming this spring.
My animals are my children.
2. What was the name of your first pet?
My first pet was named Hobo, a Cairn Terrier.
3. Why did you choose that name?
My husband found him crossing a bridge and brought him home, hence his name. He lived to be 18 years old, and was a truly wonderful companion.
4. Cats, dogs or another species? Can you choose? And why?
I think I would have to say cats, just! They are my babies. We have four cats that take care of our farm: Momma cat, Cupcake, Chester 1 and Chester 2.
5. What is your favourite memory of an animal who has shared your life?
Taking our therapy German Shepherd Tessie to visit war veterans one Christmas Eve and meeting a veteran dying of cancer. He looked up at us, his hand on Tessie’s head, smiled and said “Thank you, a dog to pet on Christmas Eve was the best gift I ever received”. Needless to say there was not a dry eye in the room. She was a great girl, working for twelve years with our veterans.
6. Which three words would you choose to describe her?
Loyal, kind-hearted and loving.
7. What is your favourite fictional animal and why?
Lassie. I grew up watching the television show and movies – she was exactly what a family dog meant to me. Also Rin Tin Tin, because I love German Shepherds!
8. If you could be any animal, which one would you choose and why?
I would be an eagle, so I could soar through the sky.
9. What advice would you give to someone grieving for a much-loved pet?
I would tell them to let the grief happen, cry when you need to and gather all the wonderful memories you can about your much-loved fur baby. That is what I am doing now, as I am still grieving for Katie who passed over a year ago.
10. When and how did you first come across The Ralph Site? What do you think is the most important role of The Ralph Site community?
Very soon after Katie passed I was searching online for information to help me learn about grieving, and I found this site. The best thing I ever did for myself – thank you Shailen.
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