When Viviana Perestrelo lost her partner in a car crash, grief almost overcame her – but her rescue dog Jess was there for her. Now, Viviana is going to run a half-marathon to raise funds for other rescues like Jess.
Viviana, who is Portugese, met her partner Kevin, from Luton, in Gran Canaria where they worked. When they moved to Greenfield, in Bedfordshire, they decided to adopt an RSPCA rescue dog.
Viviana said, “As soon as I got to Jess’ kennel my heart skipped a beat. It was 100% love at first sight.
“Just from looking at her, I knew she was the dog we were going to bring home. We adopted her there and then pending a home visit and one week later she was already part of the family.”
Unfortunately, the bliss was short-lived.
Viviana said, “We were the perfect family for 19 months but after seven years together, my partner Kev passed away in a car accident. He was driving through a storm and the roads were flooded. The car slid and he was killed instantly.”
In her grief, Viviana barely ate or left the house, and didn’t want to be around anyone – except for Jess, who was her rock throughout the grieving process.
“In a way, not being able to talk to Jess made me feel like I was in a bubble when she was with me. She didn’t talk about death, or inheritance, taxes, the mortgage, she just loved me and licked me.”
I went through my worst times but my dog pulled me from a dark hole I didn’t see an end to.
Viviana added, “My family came to support me and I love them to bits but once my family left, I didn’t care about anything in the world, I really didn’t, but Jess was my responsibility. I had to get out of bed to feed her, let her out to go to the toilet, walk her. Her needs were getting me out of bed in the morning, her routine kept me grounded in the middle of all this mess.
“And she can’t speak but she knows. We are both grieving. She’ll always sleep on his pillow and smells his shoes outside, she can’t forget him either. It broke my heart seeing her go to the door when she expected him to come home, and I couldn’t explain to her why he wasn’t coming home.”
“I went through my worst times but my dog pulled me from a dark hole I didn’t see an end to. I don’t know how or where I’d be if I didn’t have her in my life. She was there when I woke up alone, she was there when I had to cook myself dinner. She was always there when I came home, and she was there every time I cried.
“People say Jess is lucky that we adopted her but I believe we were the lucky ones to have found her. I thank the RSPCA for bringing her to me.”
After overcoming her grief, Viviana decided to run the London Landmarks half marathon to raise funds for the RSPCA as a thank you, but the event was postponed due to the pandemic. Now Viviana will be taking up the challenge on Sunday 23 May 2021.