In the latest of our series of mini interviews with friends of The Ralph Site we heard from Susie Follin, 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 only have Alfe at the moment, he’s a peaches and cream kind of cat, with piercing blue eyes.
He’s in remission from IMHA*, having been diagnosed in 2015.
[*Shailen added: IMHA is a disease where a cat’s immune system destroys his/her own red blood cells causing a shortage (anaemia).]
2. What was the name of your first pet?
My first cat was called Poppy, she was white and black and we had some great times together.
3. Why did you choose that name?
She came to me with the name already – I rescued her when she was 18 months old and we lived together until she reached the ripe old age of 17. Poppy was a proper lady.
4. Cats, dogs or another species? Can you choose?! And why?!
For me it is always cats – they are mysterious creatures (I believe they have psychic abilities) and will never be ruled by anybody else!
5. What is your favourite memory of an animal who has shared your life?
It’s very hard to choose, as I have lots of happy memories. The one that sticks in my mind is
Charlie – he was so human-like, he used to sit around the fire in the garden with us all whenever we were outside. He particularly loved BBQs and fireworks! Charlie would sit beneath the gazebo in a comfy chair until everyone went home, having made sure he got a tasty something from every guest.
I do miss him.
6. Which three words would you choose to describe him?
My best boy.
7. What is your favourite fictional animal and why?
I would have to say Scooby Doo, I love his scruffiness! He’s rough and ready, but soft with it.
8. If you could be any animal, which one would you choose and why?
I’d be a cat – they have the life of Riley and are so fastidious and clever. Not bad things to aim for!
9. What advice would you give to someone grieving for a much-loved pet?
I would tell anyone going through this terrible experience to go with the grief; cry to your heart’s content if you have to and don’t feel guilty or silly.
Remember. Reminisce. Ramble. Do whatever you have to, and one day you will remember with a smile and not a tear. That I promise x
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 came across The Ralph Site when Alfe first became ill – I really thought he was going to die, as did the vets. I poured my heart out to the community and the response I got was breath taking – people cared; really, really had compassion and they helped me feel not quite so alone.
When I lost Flea the year later I got all the support I needed once again from the wonderful people at The Ralph Site.
I have made some very special friends too – they know who they are!
The most important role of any strong community is being there with love and compassion – that’s exactly what the amazing Ralph Site does.
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