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