Patricia's story

Our Pet Loss Support (PLS) service is celebrating 30 years of helping people with the trauma of losing a pet, whether through death, rehoming, theft and other loss.

We spoke to Patricia Noble, who was inspired to support others after PLS gave her a helping hand. 

A casually-dressed woman and her black and tan dachshund dog stand on a sandy beach with sea and blue sky in the background
Patricia and Dougie spent many happy hours enjoying Scotland's beaches

When Patricia lost her beloved dachshund Dougie, she began a “descent into darkness and depression”.

“It was a huge shock and my world crashed,” explains Patricia. “I cried solidly for six months.”

The pair had developed a deep connection over 11 years, since Dougie had joined Patricia and her husband Alex at their home in coastal Ayrshire as a puppy.

Black and tan dachshund Dougie looks out to the right
Dougie was Patricia's soulmate

“Dougie was my soulmate and unofficially my support dog as I suffer from recurrent depression,” says Patricia, a trained teacher who now volunteers for PLS, which is a free and confidential service offered by Blue Cross.

“There was this real bond – 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.”

Sadly, during a New Year’s Day beach walk, a former back issue reared its head again and Patricia was faced with a terrible decision to have Dougie put to sleep.

“It was one of the darkest times of my life, I was just struggling so much,” adds the 59-year-old, who has since moved to Aberdeenshire.

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

“I was in a very dark place when I contacted PLS by email,” says Patricia, who spent nine months in contact with a volunteer who gave the emotional support she needed.

“The correspondence kept my head above water at a very difficult time. I cried tears in between sentences. I’d made the decision to contact the service but it’s another step to put it in writing.

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

A man and woman hold a black and tan dachshund with views of a sandy beach and blue sky behind them
Beach walks were a favourite activity

The help of PLS allowed Patricia to voice her grief in a non-judgemental and understanding space.

“Someone was out there who seemed to understand at a time when I felt like nobody got it,” she explains.

“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.”

Experiencing such great loss herself made Patricia determined to give back. 

After rigorous PLS training, Patricia joined our volunteer team, saying “it’s a difficult role 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,” adds Patricia.

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

Our dedicated Pet Loss Support volunteers are there to help every day of the week, from 8.30am to 8.30pm.

Whether on the phone, by email or through our live webchat, Blue Cross can give emotional support at the very toughest of times.

Call 0800 096 6606, email [email protected] or find out more about the PLS service.

— Page last updated 02/02/2024