In the first of our series of mini interviews with friends of www.theralphsite.com we contacted Penny Hudson, who shares her memories of pets she has known and loved, along with 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.
We have a cat called April who we fostered from the local Cats Protection. When she first came to us she had been found as a stray, 10 months old and pregnant. After her kittens were born and rehomed, we adopted her.
2. What was the name of your first pet?
When I was a child we had a cat called Tibby. However, the first pet in my current family came to us when I was married – another cat, called Cheekie.
3. Why did you choose that name?
My daughter named her – I think perhaps she identified a trait in her personality early on!
4. Cats, dogs or another species? Can you choose? And why?
I would choose a cat, having been more used to them throughout my life. In recent years though I have had more contact with dogs, as I regularly take care of my son’s dog when they go away.
5. What is your favourite memory of an animal who has shared your life?
That would have to be the sight of Toffee approaching people passing the house, wanting to be stroked!
6. Which three words would you choose to describe him / her?
So much love!
7. What is your favourite fictional animal and why?
Winnie the Pooh – he always seems so happy and is loved by all, young and old.
8. If you could be any animal, which one would you choose and why?
I would definitely like to be a cat – the idea of being able to take plenty of naps and have lots of fuss made of me is very appealing!
9. What advice would you give to someone grieving for a much-loved pet?
No matter what anyone else says, never feel guilty about grieving for a pet; they are just as much a part of the family as the human members. Surround yourself with memories and talk to others who understand how you are feeling.
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?
To support each other with love and understanding. When my cat Toffee died I found the grieving so hard. I had feelings that I didn’t know how to cope with – I felt guilty and kept replaying memories of her last hours. A member of my veterinary practice recommended The Ralph Site to me, and through it I met some wonderful people who understood my feelings. I was able to remember Toffee with a memorial, talking about her with people who understood. Now I hope I can help others who are grieving by reassuring them that they are not alone, by talking and listening as they describe the sadness they are experiencing after the loss of a precious pet. All these experiences and feelings are perfectly normal, and that is one of the strongest and most positive messages from The Ralph Site community.
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