After a sad start in life, we took Ralph into our lives as a companion for my Mum who had been seriously unwell and undergoing life-changing operations. Ralph would sit with her and keep her spirits up with his amazing character, his companionship, his playfulness and his calm loving manner. Ralph gave my Mum his love unconditionally until her passing in 2018.
Ralph then passed his love and attention (although he was already doing this) onto my Dad with even more passion. Ralph was permanently by his side. He learnt more tricks and due to the change in his day to day events, loved going on longer walks, kept my Dad busy and partly distracted him from his devastating loss.
My Dad had always had an ability to really understand dogs, having always had dogs in the family since he was a boy. He could talk to them and the reaction and understanding that had with them was a joy to see. Ralph was no different and to see him react to my Dad’s voice, sounds and actions was such a joy. Unfortunately, in April 2020 due to the stress of the Pandemic and the restrictions, it caused their life to change and although the companionship was always there, they were unable to carry on with the adventures they had.
I think the true effects of the loneliness and sadness my Dad felt after losing his soulmate of over 60 years was a strain for him. He suffered a massive stroke which left him severely disabled without the use of his right side, loss of speech and unable to eat normally, and with other conditions such as diabetes. As this all happened during the Pandemic, my Dad could not have any visitors although we did FaceTime him when we were able. Thankfully a few restrictions were lifted and I was allowed to visit my Dad for 1 hour a day in the hospital and I tried so hard to lift his spirits, help him adjust and to get him to try to communicate again. I got him playing noughts and crosses, and into a special wheelchair which meant that when the weather was good, I could take him into the garden. But the one thing that he needed was Ralph. He would constantly look at the photo he had of him by his bed and his eyes and face would light up when I talked about him. I asked his nurses etc to always try to talk about Ralph to cheer him on on his many low days.
The most wonderful thing that happened was that I was offered the opportunity to take Ralph to the hospital to sit with my Dad in the garden. I cannot explain how wonderful it was to see Ralph sitting on my Dads lap so gently knowing what to do to calm him and show him he loved him, missed him and wanted to be with him. My Dad was more aware, more awake, easier to communicate with and despite everything, happier.
I knew it was a long long road but I was so hopeful that maybe we could get to a point where my Dad could come home with help. Yet again, unfortunately, things would start to change again in the world and bed spaces were becoming more and more needed for the Pandemic and my Dad was discharged to a Care home. We put our trust in these people to help my Dad but their restrictions meant I could only see my Dad 1 day a week for 1/2 an hour. The care was not the best as they really didn’t have any of the facilities that my Dad needed. I called each day but it was difficult as he couldn’t see me or Ralph. In September 2020 my Dad passed away.
We have adopted Ralph and brought him into our home with our 2 Labs Alfie and Roscoe. It has been so difficult for Ralph. He would (and still does occasionally) sit by the door looking for my Dad. He sometimes barks for no reason, jumps as if he sees something (I do believe they have a sense that we don’t) and has a few mishaps. Ralph is loved beyond words and is now my new shadow and I wouldn’t have it any other way. He knows when I am sad, missing my parents, need a hug and when he can get away with murder hahahaha. He gets me out in the fresh air walking and exercising enjoying my days the same as he did for my Dad and I am so grateful he came into all our lives. Although he has been through a lot in his short life, he has still managed to love and be the companion he is. Ralph has also become a ‘non-registered carer’ for my daughter who has PTSD and suffers from extreme anxiety and his understanding of her daily patterns is amazing. To see her calmness when she is around him is unbelievable. I am so proud of him and so thankful too.