'My world crashed when I lost my dog - I cried solidly for six months'

Patricia Noble tells of 'descent into darkness' after losing her 'soulmate' Dougie amid calls to better support bereaved pet owners.

Woman whose ‘world crashed’ after losing dog backs Blue Cross campaign to support bereaved pet owners

An Aberdeenshire woman has described how her “world crashed” after the sudden loss of her beloved dog.

Patricia Noble began a “descent into darkness and depression” after she and her husband Alex were forced to put their 11-year-old daschund to sleep due to a recurring back issue in 2020.

She described Dougie as her “soulmate” and an unofficial support dog to help her through bouts of depression.

Patricia, 59, said: “He was very loving and protective of me. He could predict when I would have a migraine and come to sit at my feet and look up at me.”

Blue Cross has published research on pet bereavement to mark its 30th anniversary.

The survey found 85% of pet owners report loss and grief symptoms comparable to loss of family members, with 48% feeling compelled to endure their grief in isolation.

Additionally, only half (50%) were open to discussing the loss of a pet with family or friends, while less than 40% felt they could open up to their employer.

Most (81%) felt they couldn’t request time off work to grieve, with 67% believing it is important for employers to offer support following the loss of a pet.

Contacting Blue Cross Pet Loss Support by email was a turning point for Patricia.

Dougie had joined Patricia and her husband Alex at their home in coastal Ayrshire as a puppy.

Patricia, a trained teacher who now volunteers for the Pet Loss Support service offered by Blue Cross, said she shared a “real bond” with her dog.

But she was faced with the decision to have him put down after his back gave way during a New Year’s Day beach walk in 2020.

She said: “It was a huge shock and my world crashed. I cried solidly for six months.”

“It was one of the darkest times of my life, I was just struggling so much.”

She spent nine months in contact with a volunteer who gave her emotional support.

“The correspondence kept my head above water at a very difficult time. I cried tears in between sentences.

“You’re laying your soul and emotions bare and that isn’t easy.”

She said the correspondence helped pull her out of her “dark place,” adding: “Someone was out there who seemed to understand at a time when I felt like nobody got it

“I started to see chinks of light appear and thought if I could get through this long, dark tunnel then maybe I could help other people.”

Patricia, who has since moved from Ayrshire to Aberdeenshire, decided to become a volunteer to help other bereaved pet owners.

She said the role is “difficult but very rewarding.”

“There are heartbreaking calls, but you take them all and you’re glad you’re there for people 365 days a year when they’ve had the courage to get in touch,” added Patricia.

“Loss comes in all ways and forms and that’s testament to the connection we have with animals.”

Find out more about Pet Loss Support on the Blue Cross website.

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