In the latest of our series of mini-interviews with friends of The Ralph Site we heard from Anita Nicholson, 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.
At the moment I have several pets at home: a black and white cat called Jinx, a Westie called Jasper, a German Spitz Kline called Poppy, a Guinea Pig called Milly and Spot, the leopard gecko. I also have three horses and feed a stray cat!
2.What was the name of your first pet?
I lived in Thailand as a child and we took in a gibbon who I called Lucky.
3.Why did you choose the name?
My parents found the poor one on the roadside, having been hit by a car, so it was the perfect name.
4.Cats, dogs, or another species? Can you choose?! And why?
Although I have a variety of furry friends, I would have to say a dog. Cats are very independent, and at times I feel more like Jinx’s butler on call! Poppy and Jasper, however, are always happy to see me, and they give so much love and affection.
5.What is your favourite memory of an animal who has shared your life?
My favourite memories are with my old German Shepherd, Shane. He was a very special dog and was always very protective. When we brought Jinx home, he washed her and looked after her. He was a ten-stone, big solid dog and very tall, but he looked after her day and night. It made my heart melt.
6.Which three words would you choose to describe him?
My whole world.
7.What is your favourite fictional animal and why?
Definitely Baloo in The Jungle Book. He’s so happy and carefree!
8.If you could be any animal, which one would you choose and why?
I would like to be a giraffe – to be able to see for miles around must be amazing.
9.What advice would you give to someone who is grieving for a much-loved pet?
I’m probably the worst person to ask this question. In November it will be eight years since I lost Shane. On the anniversary I don’t speak to anyone, or even want to see anyone that day. When I talk about him it brings tears to my eyes. My house is covered with his photos. I’m not sure if I’ve come to terms with losing him yet – he meant everything to me. All I can say is that everyone is different, so don’t judge yourself and don’t listen to others telling you what you ‘should’ do, or how you ‘should’ feel. Just take one day at a time.
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 came across the site by accident. At the time I felt suicidal, as no one understood how much Shane’s death affected me. I just needed to be with him and I felt that nobody understood. Then I found this community and I knew that at last, I wasn’t alone; there were other people who felt like I did. Had it not been for The Ralph Site I would not be here today – it was, and still is, a true lifeline for me.
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