In the latest of our series of mini interviews with friends of The Ralph Site we heard from Rosemary O’Connor, 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 a two-year-old Rhodesian Ridgeback called Zuri and two cats. For fifteen years we had a Siamese called Thai and we kept two of her kittens – sadly only one is alive now, Pudding, he’s half Siamese and is fourteen years old.
2. What was the name of your first pet?
The first animal in my life was another Rhodesian Ridgeback called Merrie. I was born in East Africa and back in those days they were used as guard dogs and for hunting lions.
3. Why did you choose that name?
I don’t know actually – my parents named her. The reason I chose Zuri’s name though was because of her heritage – her full name is MbwaZuri, which is Swahili for ‘pretty dog’. I thought she was such a pretty pup!
4. Cats, dogs or another species? Can you choose?! And why?!
Growing up my family has always had both a cat and a dog, but I have to say dogs are my favourite. They’re so faithful and your world is theirs, whereas cats are more independent.
5. What is your favourite memory of an animal who has shared your life?
There are so many to choose from, but remembering Poppy’s travel habits makes me smile. She used to love sitting on my lap in the car (with her own seatbelt on), watching everything going by – she especially liked to lean out of the window, which brought plenty of smiles from everyone who saw her!
6. Which three words would you choose to describe her?
Funny, characterful and cuddly.
7. What is your favourite fictional animal and why?
It has to be Scooby Doo – all my Ridgebacks have reminded me of him, hiding behind my back! Although when it’s something really serious, they act like proper Ridgies.
8. If you could be any animal, which one would you choose and why?
I’d probably choose to be a dog. They get taken for a nice walk twice a day, meals are served up to them and cosy beds are available to sleep in most of the day – what a lovely life!
9. What advice would you give to someone grieving for a much-loved pet?
I would say to take as long as you need to grieve; no two people are the same. Talk about your loved one often and don’t be afraid to cry – bottling up your feelings ultimately does no good.
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?
I can’t remember how I first came across the site, but I know that it was shortly after my Poppy had died. I was in a very bad place, but thanks to the wonderful people in the Facebook group I was able to talk about how I was feeling. All I got back was love and support. I sometimes think Poppy led me to The Ralph Site, and now that I’m much better I want to help others in the same situation.
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