Growing up, we always had pets, my childhood was a menagerie of dogs, cats, rabbits and for a while terrapins.
As an adult, nothing has really changed, I now have 7 dogs. I love animals and I think, particularly during lockdown, they have been my saviours, they've made me leave the house on days that I might not have felt like it, they make me laugh and they give really good cuddles.
Until earlier this year, I had a cat too, his name was Pudding and I'd had him since he was a kitten. Late last year he was diagnosed with cancer and I was given the choice of putting him through rounds of chemotherapy and him living another 5-7 months or going the route of palliative care and him living 3-5 months.
Knowing how much Pudding hated the vets and hated being in the car, I decided that we'd go down the palliative care route. I decided that during whatever time he had left, he would get as many cuddles as humanly possible from me and the dogs, he could eat whatever he liked and he could have as many meat sticks as he wanted. And that's what we did.
Pudding lived another 7 months and on the day when I knew he'd had enough, I took him to the vets and we said our goodbyes and then I came home and I cried.... I cried a lot!
Losing a pet is really hard, they're part of your family. Pudding was 14 when he died, that's a long time to have someone in your life, we'd actually been through a lot together and I still miss him. I miss him giving me a headbutt when he wants to kiss me, I miss his loud purr and I miss his ridiculously long whiskers.
Some people wont necessarily understand how much it hurts to lose a pet and you might hear comments like "it's only a cat / dog / rabbit" etc, those people in my opinion are wrong!
These are my tips to dealing with the loss of a pet.
Give yourself time to grieve and don't feel embarrassed if you want to have a cry.
Chat to your friends, don't bottle up your feelings.
If you have other pets, try and maintain a normal routine with them, they're still around and they still love and need you.
Do something to honour your pet, you could plant a tree in their memory, or grow flowers where you've scattered their ashes.
You could speak to a professional organisation such as the Pet Bereavement Support Group, who offer a free, confidential service, offering support over the phone, or via letter, e-mail or text message. They work with pet owners nation-wide.
Above all, give yourself time and be kind to yourself.