For years I have been amazed by the connection between humans and their animal companions. I began interviewing people and collecting their stories to share. I often hear stories about animal rescue - animals who have been through traumatic times and finally found a loving home. But when I dig deeper and listen to the stories, it is often the animal who has rescued their guardian.
Compassion is our way home.
VICKY AND TILLY
We got her in 2010. I’d just started a university course up in Brighton and my partner was working – he was a pub manager so he was working 80 hours a week, so Tilly was my confidant. She would be the person I would come home and eat dinner with and chat to.
She’s actually quite a sensitive soul and had a phantom pregnancy when I was pregnant. That lasted for probably about four months. We always said, me and my partner, if one of us leaves the other one, then the person that remains would be the person that gets Tilly.
ANNA AND WIPPEL
He was a friend, a companion, an outdoor nature lover and a spiritual being in our house. Wippel had to go to an animal shelter, he had to wait for a new home. He emotionally suffered a lot. He lost his fur, he lost weight and was not playful anymore. He was emotionally traumatised.
I think it also brought our family more together because we thought, “OK. What can we do to bring life back into this dog body?” We over nurtured him with cuddles. And I think, being a child, learning all this, it probably taught a lot of empathy.
JEM AND BONNIE
I would take her for walks on a Sunday, and she would just disappear into the bushes and hedgerows, and I’d be walking round the hills shouting “Bonnie” for minutes on end until she turned up. But, she always turned up.
I don’t remember any particular emotional help from her. Maybe I was lucky enough, I was a happy teenager, so perhaps I didn’t need a doggy shoulder to cry on, but - I’m getting emotional now. I was very sad when she passed away.
MADDY AND FADDY
She was a neighbour’s cat who used to come into the flat. Sometimes she would stay over. I would text my neighbour and say, “Can we have a pyjama party with Faddy?” And the neighbour said yes and we had her to stay the night.
I’ve never met a cat like Faddy in my life. I still miss her. There were times when I felt quite lonely in that flat, we didn’t really have a great community of friends there and I think she got me through the tough times – feeling lonely.