Since 1979, Colin and Nancy Graham have worked together as a team in both their private and professional lives. Colin, a Civil Engineer and Nancy, a Registered Nursing Assistant, welcomed over twenty medically fragile foster infants into their home over a seven-year period to help prepare them for adoption or re-introduction into their birth families’ homes.
At the same time, while Colin was participating in a number of engineering projects for both the Ontario and Federal governments, Nancy was working with her brother and sister to provide graphic and creative artwork to a number of major advertising agencies in the Greater Toronto Area.
Since there were still a few free hours left each day in their busy lives, Nancy and Colin expanded their family in 1987 to include two Great Pyrenees dogs, Beau and Rebel, and in 1988 welcomed their son Cameron into their home.
In 1995, at the age of eight, Beau developed bone cancer and had to be euthanized. On-set of Beau’s condition was fairly rapid and it was necessary for Colin and Nancy to say their “good-byes” to Beau with very little time to prepare for the loss. It was this event that inspired Nancy and Colin in 1998 to create Thistledown Pet Memorial. In effect, Thistledown is Beau’s lasting legacy.Nancy and Colin have been pet lovers their entire lives and both believe they have found their calling.
They understand the pain experienced by many pet owners following the loss of their beloved animal companion. At Thistledown pet guardians are able to celebrate their pets and begin the healing process. At Thistledown every pet receives all the dignity, honour and respect it deserves.
Both Colin and Nancy believe new pets often find us rather than us finding them. They now rescue the less adoptable large senior dogs and give them a loving home in a beautiful rural Ontario environment. It is here, during their “Golden Years”, that these precious creatures can practice their innate therapeutic skills to help visitors following the loss of their beloved animal companions. It is amazing to watch the positive calming influence these four-legged “Greeters” have on people struggling with their grief. Our pets have much to teach us; we only have to be open to learn from them.
Life, Loss, and Celebration is a must-read for all pet owners. This book outlines the difficult journey of losing a beloved family pet and why this extremely painful process can have such a devastating impact on so many people. There are many ways and things we can do to make these losses more manageable and healing.