Departed Friend Newsletter No. 37 Dec ’09


She came into my life during the autumn of 2006 ~ a young tortoiseshell and white cat who had been homeless for several months.  We bonded instantly and became ‘soul mates’.  She was outgoing and fun-loving, instantly friendly and willing to please.

I named her Polly Angel, for a guardian angel was exactly what she was.  It soon became clear that ‘our Pol’ had special qualities.  I was crippled with painful arthritis and depression and longed for a special companion.  Polly adopted the persona of a furry Florence Nightingale, who guided me about the house, always by my side, glancing up toward me talking all the while in her special way.

During 2008, Polly became ill with what was thought to be Cat Flu, then when no medication appeared to be helping her further examinations revealed a malignant tumour was growing inside her nose.  Symptoms were slow to progress and Polly fought to be well and remain by my side for always.  By September her condition worsened yet she fought bravely on ~ and the knowledge I would one day lose her, so soon after we had been brought together was heart-wrenching. 

It was my turn to look after her, watching over her by day and night.  During those last weeks she remained extra close, like a second skin, as she lay beside me in the bed.  I urged her to live on so that we could share one more Christmas together, but this was asking too much of my special girl and on 2nd December 2008 I had to make the heart-breaking decision to allow her to go on her final journey ~ my Polly could barely breathe, or eat and she was half-blind.

I shall never forget the look of sorrow and sadness on her beautiful face as we bid our Goodbyes.

I held her one last time, thanked her for her loving care, told her how dearly I loved her and to be strong and brave.

I kissed her velvet-soft head and wished her ‘Happy Christmas’ ~ then my beautiful Polly Angel was no more.

It was revealed she may have had the tumour lying dormant the day she came to me, meaning my Polly Angel had come home to die.

Ten months have now passed without her serene presence and not a second goes by when I do not ache to hold her close again, feel her wet and warm kisses ~ such special kisses.

When I gaze up at the Night Sky and see the brightest, twinkling star, I know it is my beloved girl looking down upon me.

~ I cried for you and the sky cried for you. ~

On the day Polly Angel passed over, a flurry of snow flakes fell from the heavens ~ the angels were crying their own tears, mingling with mine.

Goodnight, my gentle, sweet girl.

Lynn Burman

I didn’t want him to go without a name….

Please take time to read this and think about him. This little black cat had no name, no home, no-one to love him.  He had to steal food to survive and sleep under a bush. Maybe he did get a little food left out for him but mostly I think he got ignored.  He did go through a neighbour’s cat flap and get shelter on a cold night. As time went on, though, he developed bald patches on his back and became thin.  The neighbours around there then were concerned and the Cat Protection were called in, which took him to a good vet.  They found FIV, something wrong with his intestines and a skin condition.  He went to sleep…..

….. He is safe now and new friends are waiting to take him over Rainbow Bridge to play in the fields and be happy forever. You didn’t have a name; you have now – “Ebony”. God Bless you Ebony. 

Please take care of any animal who comes into your garden.  Hedgehogs like cat food too.


BUNNY July 26 – Nov 24, 2009

It is with great sadness that we announce that Bunny passed away a few hours ago.  She was always very active and vibrant and loved life.  She was also very independent and stubborn at the same time.

 Last night, she was still outside her cage when we had to go to bed.  Usually we leave a little light on when she’s out, but this one time we switched it off.  When we woke up in the morning, CK discovered she had fallen behind a packing box and got trapped.  We thought she looked OK but didn’t realise she was in a state of shock.  When we returned from work this evening, she was on the bottom of the cage and with her eyes closed and very weak.  CK took her out and cuddled her, but she quietly slipped away.

 For the four short months we have had her, she has brought us lots of joy and happiness, although she and Belle sometimes did not get on.  We hope she will now rest in peace and enjoy a much better life in heaven with our other departed loved ones. 

 Love Anne & CK and babies (in deep sorrow)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“Thank you both so much for the lovely card, you are the only ones who have been kind enough to send me one. It means a lot to me.”

When a friend of ours recently lost a beloved companion animal, we sent her a card with a message of condolence.  I was sad to learn that we were the only ones who did this, but I honestly believe people did not mean to be uncaring; it just did not occur to them to do this.

If you know of someone who is grieving for a pet, do consider sending them a card.  It doesn’t take the pain away but it shows them that you care and helps them to feel that they are not alone. I know it helped me to receive all your lovely cards and emails when Eric died –  ed.

Heart to heart communication with pets

 Susan Wagner Nov 17, 2009

One of the most controversial topics surrounding our pets is animal communication. I remember when I first heard about the concept of talking to animals. I was a practicing neurologist, and an internist friend told me about a client whose animal communicator told her that her cat had pancreatitis. Boy, did my righteous indignation have a field day with that one! What nonsense, I thought.

Now that I comprehend the human-animal bond as an energetic force, and that we can translate that energy into a state of knowing, or even words, I understand it. Have I seen my share of communicators who are way off base? Sure. Have I witnessed what I believe is true communication? You bet.

My first experience with animal communication came years before I even understood what was happening. I had a patient named Bruce, who was a fabulous cat. Bruce had undergone surgery to remove a benign tumor from his brain. As do most cats with this procedure, he did very well. Unfortunately, complications occurred a few days later, and Bruce found himself fighting for his life.

Bruce’s entire medical team was giving it their best. I stayed with him most of the night and the following day, but I had tickets to a Santana concert that night. In my house, there are three spiritual holidays: Christmas, Easter and Santana. I knew Bruce was in the best hands in ICU, and a dear internist friend of mine was working ER that night and would look after him as well. I knew Bruce would be fine while I got some needed R&R, so I went to the concert.

During the entire concert, I kept worrying about Bruce, but knew that I would be checking on him after the show. After all, he was in great hands. All of a sudden, however, this intense, incredible feeling of peace came over me – a feeling that Bruce was fine and happy. At first I thought my intuition was telling me he had turned the corner for the better. Then I realized it might be something else. I looked at my watch – it was 10:15.

Later that night, when I walked into the hospital and saw the look on my vet friend’s face, I knew I was right. She opened her mouth to speak, and I filled in the words – Bruce had passed, right? What time, I asked? She said she wasn’t sure exactly – sometime after 10.

Now that I am an energy practitioner, and know that science has shown the energetic basis for all life, Bruce’s story doesn’t surprise me a bit. And we also know from science that matter and energy are neither created nor destroyed, they merely change forms. That means that life of all kinds is neither created nor destroyed, it always is. We and our beloved animals always are.

A dear intuitive friend of mine says that when animals pass, they go home, change clothes, and come right back. I wonder what Bruce is wearing now.

We are grateful to CK Yoe for sending us this beautiful article – ed. 

Your letters ……” *

Thank you for the September issue of Departed Friend (see DF no. 36, ed.). … As usual, it had many interesting items.  I am sure many readers will take advantage of the EASE Bereavement Service which is a further indication of how widely it is now recognised that the loss of a beloved pet does greatly affect people. 

I have heard people mention Animal Christian Concern before, and a friend of mine had contributed to the radical Ark magazine. Sadly the clergy as a whole are still silent on animal cruelty and condone or at least tolerate hunting and vivisection. How refreshing to know some Christians are concerned.

John Cowen

 Hello Debby,

You have probably thought that I either fell in a hole or departed from this life. Neither is true.

I realize I promised you an article for the Departed Friend about three Septembers ago, and then was never heard from again. Having been a newsletter editor for several publications, I know how that is ……

I simply became very busy with volunteering with my church … Episcopal, that Americanized Anglican church :-). And I took on an increasing load counseling pet parents in the APLB’s Anticipatory Bereavement chat room.  If it is of any comfort to you, I have immensely enjoyed reading all the issues of the Departed Friend and have saved each one in a binder. Also, I instigated and help plan an annual Interfaith Pet Memorial Service at my church (our 3rd Annual Service will be on October 4, 2009). We have also been offering a Pet Loss Workshop in the Spring for the past two years.

I just returned from participating in the Second International Symposium  on Veterinary Hospice Care held at University of California, Davis … an awesome symposium ! There were two people there from England. I would be interested in knowing if there is a like movement in the UK for hospicing companion animals. 

By the way, are you or any of your readers involved in the Death, Dying and Disposal Conference being held at Durham University on 9 September to 12 september 2009 ? There is one presentation to be given on            11 September on “Am I going to See My Pet in Heaven?” presented by the woman that leads the Pet Memorial Service with me.

Hoping to send you an article for the newsletter … I now have several subjects I could write about….

With warm regards, 

Lois Roach
Certified Pet Bereavement Counselor
Chatroom Moderator and Host,
Anticipatory Bereavement and Pet Loss
Association For Pet Loss and Bereavement (APLB)

A true story

A woman was out walking two dogs, her own and a friend’s, when she slipped and fell, twisting her ankle.  She could not move.  She phoned for an ambulance on her mobile.  Her own dog went to look for the paramedics, while the other dog kept her company.  The dog found the paramedics and brought them to his mistress. Just who is the superior species?  Who says animals are devoid of understanding?

We are indebted to John Cowen for sending us this heart-warming  story – ed.


This black ribbon is

in memory of all the animals

who suffer and die

at the hands of 



in recognition of the

outrage,  grief and

compassion felt by

those who



It is with rapt fascination that a photograph of a deceased chimpanzee being visibly mourned by dozens of chimpanzees looking on as the body is being wheeled for burial has transfixed viewers across the Internet, on television, and in countless publications, with its soul-piercing sadness. The image of the matriarch Dorothy, lying still amid orphaned chimpanzees at Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue Center , in Cameroon , Africa , is something wondrous to behold. The Sanaga-Yong Center , which provides sanctuary for nearly 70 orphans, victims of the illegal bushmeat trade, is a project of IDA Africa, the creation of In Defense of Animals’ Dr. Sheri Speede. who first traveled to the country to volunteer her veterinary skills. She made friends with three chimpanzees, Becky, Jacky, and Pepe—who had suffered decades in small cages at a resort hotel and, in 1999, became the first adult chimpanzees who had been rescued in Cameroon. In 2000, IDA Africa organized a forced confiscation of adult chimpanzees Dorothy and Nama, and eight monkeys, the first armed confiscation of illegally held primates in Cameroon .The striking image by Sanaga-Yong volunteer Monica Szczupider that first appeared in the November, 2009, issue of National Geographic captures exquisitely the personal and ideal sharing of the fate among nonhumans brought together by a common purpose and who form extraordinary bonds of friendship. The photo subsequently appeared on “Inside edition,” “ABC News,” the New York Post, London Telegraph, the Daily Mail, and a variety of other newspapers and Web sites around the world.The writer Susan Sontag in On photography wrote that “photographs do not explain; they acknowledge.” When looking at the photo, one immediately feels the magnitude and closeness of the family of chimpanzees and seeing their view of things. In all the marvel of their chimpanzee nature and sophisticated minds, our closest genetic kin possess their own dialects, cultures, they teach their young, use tools, and are self-aware, conscious of themselves and their futures. And as evident in the photo, they feel sorrow and mourn the deaths of loved ones.

Orphaned by a hunter who killed her mother, Dorothy was sold as a “mascot” to an amusement park-hotel, where she was chained by her neck.  Somewhere between 25 and 40 dark years, she endured the endless mocking and jeering of visitors to the park, as she was taught to drink beer and beg for cigarettes to the great delight of onlookers. People laughed mercilessly at Dorothy, but no one came near enough to touch her. She was labeled vicious by the hotel staff. Once at the sanctuary, she made fast friends with many of the chimpanzees, even experiencing mother love by adopting a baby orphan named Bouboule, whom she adored until the end of her life. Dorothy and Nama, another amusement part refugee and soul mate, lived in alpha male Jacky’s group of 27 chimpanzees. Dorothy was at the center of it all—a beloved mother figure to many of the younger chimpanzees—a luminous presence everyone at Sanaga-Yong felt like a nimbus.

When Dorothy passed away, on September 22, 2008, from what appeared to be heart failure, Dr. Speede said “many people from the villages, including the high chief of our seven villages, came to pay their respects. No one seemed to wonder for a second whether a funeral service was appropriate for a chimpanzee. They walked to the camp from their villages after learning of Dorothy’s death, without being invited.

“We buried Dorothy beside the enclosure where she lived and beside the tomb of her friend Becky. All the chimpanzees in her family came to watch and mourn with us. When we brought her to the gravesite, they asked to see her again, so I took her body close for them to see her a final time. None of them left until the burial was finished.”

We are grateful to Diana Hartig for sending us this remarkable account of bereavement in the Chimpanzee community – ed. 

S.O.S. HENRY ~ an update

       Readers will recall that I sent out an appeal in June 2009 for a good home for this lovely 1-year old cat, Henry, who was in danger of being put to sleep after running up his then owner’s Christmas tree. DF reader Gerry Robinson rescued him but couldn’t keep him herself, as she has six dogs, so she paid for him to stay in a private cattery.  We couldn’t have him as we had just got Miss Sammie, a boisterous kitten who was driving our OAPs (Older Age Pussies) mad.

       When Gerry got in touch again five months later to say Henry still had not got a home, I did not hold out much hope of a second appeal bringing a result.  But I am pleased to say, he is now settled with people who love him very much. 

       Sammie had established herself and become (more or less) accepted by the four OAPs, and as well as still missing our lovely ginger Eric, we also missed the presence of a boy cat.  So we decided to offer Henry a home.  From the first day he was at ease, and I have never known a cat settle so well and so quickly. He and Sammie are young and energetic, and they play together often, giving the older girls some peace. When we eventually let him out, he took only a day to master the catflap and now he comes and goes as he pleases.  He is a home boy, and has not yet felt the need to wander off and establish territory, preferring instead to socialise with us and the girls, and eat us out of house and home!     Debby.

The Lord of the Manor – Henry relaxing!


Departed Friend Newsletter No. 36 Sep ’09


~ a unique bereavement service ~

EASE is an animal welfare charity whose purpose is to promote and support the special relationship that can exist between a person and their pet, in the following ways:

1) Education to promote animal welfare, including literature on care of small animals and birds.

2) School Visits to encourage young children to realise the importance of being kind and gentle to all animals. (This vital work could help reduce cases of appalling animal and human cruelty, which so often start in childhood).

3) Preparing for pet loss programme. This is a free email service for people who anticipate the loss of a beloved pet Just as Departed Friend’s unique feature is the newsletter, EASE is unique in offering support before and during, as well as after, pet loss, recognising that loss may be anticipated because of terminal illness, old age, euthanasia or separation due to, for example, the break-up of a relationship or other causes. Pet bereavement counsellor Angela Garner says:

I know from personal experience and from my work supporting many people through pet loss how painful and difficult this journey can be. Everyone should have access to understanding and support, and I believe that if the person is as best prepared and as settled as possible it helps both the carer and the companion animal. Settlement is so important, and this comes through being able to talk and think things through, such as how to cope with the different emotions that arise.”

Pet Loss Support Sheets can be downloaded free of charge (if you are not online, ask a friend to download them for you – or send me an SAE; I will be pleased to do it for you – ed.)

 ‘When the time comes to say goodbye’ – a practical guide to after-death services for pet-owners

*   ‘Blemie’s Will’– written by playwright Eugene O’Neill to help his wife when their beloved dog was  dying

*   ‘Coping with pet euthanasia’

*   ‘Supporting a friend through pet loss’

*   ‘Coping with guilt in pet bereavement’

*   ‘Coping with grief in pet loss’

Audio Support. For broadband users, there is a short recording written and read by Angela entitled Support in Pet Bereavement which can be listened to on-line free of charge. It can also be purchased as a CD.

(I listened and found it very comforting; I can thoroughly recommend it. ed.)

Other Material (prices are on the order form)

 ‘Remembering my pet’ – pet bereavement activity book for children up to the age of around 10 years

    (A4 spiral bound)

* ‘In remembrance of a beloved pet’ – special writing presented in colour as A4 poster

* ‘Sympathy cards’ – in a variety of designs: dog, cat, pony, hamster, rabbit, butterfly or deer

Memorial stones

These beautiful Garden of Remembrance Stones are situated in Waunifor in Wales – a centre for retreats and international conferences whose workers are supporters of EASE. The stones are a collection of  large pebbles with the name of a beloved pet who has died on one side and on the  other side is written a quality or strength chosen to best reflect the gift they brought to their carer during their life.

(For details of how to contact EASE by post or email, please see the ‘Resources’ section at the end of this newsletter.)

Love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation   –                ~   Khalil Gibran ~

Resource Review


Coming to terms with the death of a pet

~ by Virginia Ironside ~

pb. 2009: JR Books

I first reviewed this remarkable book in DF no. 10, October 2003.  It has now been updated and reprinted. Aspects covered include Our Relationship with Pets, Grieving, Burial or Cremation? Memorials – and Comfort, Do they go to Heaven? all interspersed with suitable poems relevant to each theme. (Many bereaved people derive great comfort from poetry – which can express feelings in ways that prose often cannot). There is also a short resource list at the end.

There are numerous quotes from devoted owners – including well-known figures like the artist Tracy Emin who says:

‘I should be feeling secure and comfortable, but instead I am filled with fear. As I lie out in the sun, tears burn my eyes as I recount in my mind the last eight years of my life. Today I was given the news that Docket, my cat, has contracted feline Aids … Docket is not just a pet to me. Without sounding too corny, he is really like my baby. I constantly say this. I love him more than anything else in the world.’

There is a very useful new chapter on children’s bereavement, with heartrending quotes and sound advice on how to answer children’s questions – in ways suitable to different age groups. Pet bereavement in childhood is often our first direct experience with death, and it can be devasting:

‘I cried and cried and cried until I could cry no more, I didn’t believe it. I didn’t know where I was.’

‘I cried all morning at school.’

‘He was the only thing I could count on when my parents split up.’

This book is a must for anyone wanting to know how to help someone who is bereaved; it will also bring you comfort and reassurance if you are bereaved yourself.

(See ‘Resources’ section for how to order a copy.)

My dear sweet Oxo.

I miss and love you so much.

Sleep in peace.

Love always Jackie XXX

Resource Review


~ by May Tripp ~

 pb. Animal Christian Concern

May Tripp wrote the first part of this bereavement resource with no certainty that it would ever be published – as a way of remembering two of her dogs, Chiquita and Ben, and recapturing the lost joys of their youth; they had both died in extreme old age.  But it was the traumatic and unexpected loss of their third dog, Tanya, at the relatively young age of 11 that plunged May into a depressive illness – and spurred her on to shape the memories (with the addition of Tanya’s story) into an article that she hoped would be of help to other people.  Judging by the tributes she has received, she succeeded.

As with many people who grieve for companion animals,  May’s life has not been easy: there has been hardship and heartbreak – and human losses – in addition to bouts of clinical depression.

Readers will readily identify with May’s honest account of her journeys through grief  – and feel relieved to know that they are not the only ones to feel racked with guilt, despair and anger and, if they have a religious faith, to find their beliefs severely challenged. May was fortunate to be supported by prayer and the healing ministry and was able, eventually, to find comfort in her faith.  In 1985 May founded Christian Animal Concern as a consequence of the impact of the dog Chiquita’s life and death upon her family.

May has a deep and compassionate insight into how people can react to the loss of a beloved animal:

These people have the same symptoms as those suffering from human bereavement, and in extreme cases their feelings of loneliness and grief can be suicidal. They need the reassurance that the strength of the bond … is sensitively understood. They need to be able to grieve.’  

As a Christian, May has found comfort and reassurance from Biblical references to God’s love for animals (Not one sparrow is forgotten by God) – and a vision of the life hereafter where the Lion and the Lamb shall lie down together in peace.  There is also a very interesting and useful addendum ‘The Bible and Animals’ which answers the following questions:

Are animals created to be our companions?

Do animals have souls/spirits?

Were animals redeemed with the death of Christ?

The answer “Yes” to all the above is backed up by scholarly but easy-to-read evidence that the Bible makes no distinction between the spirits of people or animals (the Hebrew and Greek words for  human and animal spirits being the same in each case). Psalm 104:30 clearly states that animals are created from God’s spirit – which is eternal.

Though it is written from a Christian perspective, there is much in this article to which people of all faiths and none can relate, and from which they can derive comfort:

The cathartic value of writing a short life history of a precious companion animal so that memories are preserved

The understanding and empathy of the author which will comfort the reader

The honest account of life’s hardships and  negative feelings worked through and overcome

The importance of help and support from others

The true place of animals in creation (priceless and equal with humans) and the uniqueness of each individual.  Though it is expressed here in Christian terms, people of other faiths may be stimulated to research their own belief systems for similar perspectives. For people who do not follow a religious or spiritual path, the secular parallel will 

be to show equal respect for all (whether human or other animal) in this life and to give support and understanding to those who grieve.

(See ‘Resources’ section for how to order a copy.)

Your letters ……” *

Dear Debby

Would you please put in your next newsletter that my dear cat Benny was put to sleep on 9 July.  He had kidney failure.  He was over 20 years old and we still miss him terribly.  I still look at the places in the garden where he liked to sleep and rest.  The vet came to the house and everything was done very peacefully and the vet was very professional.  Many thanks.

Best wishes  Sharon Hopkins


I have signed the petition** as requested.  To lose that beautiful cat in such a horrendous way must have been terrible.  I can still remember the Dangerous Wild Animals Act becoming law.  Prior to it being established, people were keeping lions, tigers and leopards in their back gardens – at least, one man was; he was very threatening towards the neighbours when they complained.  So the government put the brake on it and not before time!  Anyway – Good Luck with the petition!

      Whilst writing, could I mention that I have at last managed to get “Departed Friend” on the screen.  So if it will save your postage, I don’t really need to have paper copies as well.  If I know of anyone who would like a copy to be sent to them, I’ll let you know.  Meanwhile, my very best wishes for all your endeavours.

     Love  Helen Constance

P.S. – Although my cat Domino is black and white (spotted like a domino), his facial expression is just like Wilbur’s –

kind of sad when he thinks I’m going to leave him, so I feel haunted by the picture of Wilbur.

(**The petition asks for a change in the law to protect pet animals like Wilbur the cat who, tragically, was asphyxiated and eaten by a pet python. The petition can be found at

Your newsletter is very interesting especially the information on the Cinnamon Trust.  (See DF35, ed.) What always worries me is not being able to have my dogs with me.

      At this moment in time I do not have a problem and hope that, like my mum, I will always be able to look after myself.  I also know that if I did have to think about a home and could not have my dog(s) with me then one of my sons would take them as they both love animals.  The point would be that I would be alone !   My dogs are a great part of my life and I can not imagine my life with out them !   When Angel sleeps at the end of my bed she gives me security.  I know that no-one can come near any part of my house without Sandy and Angel barking !! Keep up the good work.
     Best wishes  Maureen with Sandy and Angel x

You’ll be sorry to hear that we finally lost our battle with dear little Mystic Mog yesterday. She lost the ability to eat or drink Friday afternoon, and when we went to wash her legs, she buckled under the weight of the towel. It was so sad. We took her to the vet as soon as it opened yesterday 9am and he couldn’t do any more for her so we had to have her put to sleep. She is being collected for cremation on Thursday. At least my favourite vet was on duty which was a huge relief!

       Later yesterday evening, we were leaving the house to drive my niece and her girlfriend to the station, when my new neighbour came running down my drive saying a cat had been run over up the road, and was lying in the middle of the road! So we grabbed some towels and Bill ran up and got it. There is one vet where we live open at night so we rushed it up there. It was still alive, but its eye was completely hanging out and its jaw was broken. No microchip or collar, but Bill told a bystander where we were taking it, and as we were leaving the vets, the owners phoned up and were on their way. I just hope they had enough money for treatment, and didn’t have it put down cos the vet thought it could be saved. What a bizarre day!!!

Love  Joolz xxxxx

Dear Friends, I am sad today, my 15 year old cat Alex (see photo) has passed away. In March he had been diagnosed with unoperable liver cancer and today we noticed he was suffering so we called the vet who came to the house to gently ease him out of his painful little body. This evening we will bury him in the woods nearby.  

       Alex was an English aristocat, he hailed from Kent and he also lived with me in Spain and Holland; he was the best companion in the world. He was an officer and a gentleman, not at all interested in hunting or fishing, he was more the poet and the ponderer. He has left me to get his wings, he more than deserves them.

Goodbye Stan

Now I lay me down to rest

Tabby head on tabby chest;

They all say it’s for the best…

And I’m too tired to care.

He took me in the car again.

I couldn’t see. I heard the rain.

They’re going to take away the pain.

There’s darkness everywhere.

I’ll miss the sunshine on the lawn,

I’ll miss the thrush upon the thorn

The fireside in a winter storm –

They’re gone for evermore.

He trembled as he held me tight,

He told me it would be all right.

And then he shut the door.

We are grateful to DF reader Eileen Clarke for sending us this beautiful poem. If anyone has come across it  before and knows who wrote it, please let me know.  ed.

Pet memorial jewelry

Kimberly and Gervais are a remarkable couple living in Canada. They have 4 children and are caretaker to many companion animals: dogs, cats, horses, rats, birds and a potbellied pig. Kimberly is a talented jewelry artisan and Reiki 2 practitioner. Gervais has IT and business skills.  Together they make a powerful combination to offer help to bereaved people. It is well known that having a tangible memorial to a lost loved one, like jewelry, can help the grieving process. (I have lockets with photos or fur and t-shirts with photographs of animals I have loved and lost – ed.)

Kimberly and Gervais run a family business which offers cat, dog and horse memorial jewelry, with memorials to potbellied pigs coming soon; they know at first hand the pain of losing beloved pets.  

They also have a “Rainbow Bridge” service, where bereaved people can write a tribute to a lost loved one. This is free of charge, and can be very valuable in expressing and publicising how much a particular animal meant, and continues to mean, to the people left behind.

They also offer (via a separate website) memorial jewelry for human bereavement via “miscarriage, infant loss and loss of loved ones”.   Kimberly says:

One of my favourite quotes from my grief work is ” A broken heart is a broken heart.” You cannot have any one upmanship in grief. Grief after the loss of a loved one, be they a tiny baby, an adult or an animal, is devastating and painful. 

For contact details, see Resources.

Other commemorative jewelry.


  Commemorative diamonds can be grown from fur, nail clippings or cremated ashes.   The  stone  can be set  
in some of the owner’s existing jewelry or designs  from  the   provider. If preferred, bespoke designs can be created in consultation with the provider. This unusual memorial is expensive, one supplier quoting £649.00 for a diamond ring.For details of suppliers, see Resources.

Following the article about animal therapy in a psychiatric hospital featured in DF35, here is another testimony from one of the patients:

My Responsibility of Looking After the Hospital Hamster

I’ve had Lewis in my room for over a year now, although Lewis is the ward hamster I have been his main carer making sure he gets cleaned out, fed and given water daily and regularly handled.  It’s good in so many ways, having Lewis in my room, although he only wakes in the evenings he’s actually great company. 

Listening to him rustling around in his cage and wheel, Lewis being there has helped with my over-whelming feelings of loneliness. 

I love the responsibility of looking after him, knowing his routine, eating habits and general health.  I would know instantly if he was unwell, I even know if he’s feeling a little low himself. 

When I’m really struggling in mood, I often get Lewis out and handle him, I can tell him all of my problems, and although he can’t answer back, it still helps.  There have been times I look back and think Lewis has saved my life, as

I used to feel extremely suicidal, I used to look at Lewis’s cage and think about him and what would happen to him if I killed myself, it would prevent me from ligaturing, especially if he was awake, as I would never self harm or attempt suicide with him watching me-I’d feel so guilty. 

As little as Lewis is, his huge personality as a hamster makes me so happy; he always comes to me when I open his cage which makes me feel wanted and special.  I just hope he is aware of the difference he has and still does make to my life.

We are grateful to therapist Louise and to the patients for permission to print these inspiring articles: there will be more to come  in subsequent editions of the newsletter.  ed

Departed Friend Newsletter No. 35 Jun ’09


~ new developments ~

While browsing the internet one day, I came across the Animal Care College, which offers distance learning courses – on everything from canine, feline and equine psychology to complementary therapies and pet sitting. They all looked interesting but the one that ‘leapt off the page’ at me was the Diploma in Companion Animal Bereavement Counselling. I applied and was accepted.  For the past year I devoted myself to the course, researching and writing essays in the evenings after work, on annual leave and at weekends. It was richly rewarding and I realised just how important animals have been throughout my life. Inevitably, there have been many losses – starting in childhood. I believe passionately that this special bereavement should be understood, respected and taken seriously – and that people should be able to have help if they need it. That is why I started the Departed Friend newsletter.

I completed the course this year and received a certificate, plus National Open College Network (NOCN) Accreditation. This qualification has given me the confidence to extend the range of support that DF can offer:


  • Newsletter by post or email
  • Telephone support (7.00pm – 9.00pm, weekdays)
  • Email support
  • Support by letter
  • Face-to-face support (by arrangement: Luton area;

currently free, but donation welcomed) 

My ultimate aim is to make this a full time occupation after retirement. I will need to obtain funding. Any ideas on how to go about this would be very gratefully received.

Additionally, there is now a DF blogsite. I am extremely grateful to Peter Wakeham, who constructed it and is putting a great deal of hard work into its development. Visit it at:

‘No Pets Allowed’

I recently received this request from a Departed Friend reader:

I am writing to you to ask if you know of any sheltered home that a friend and her husband could move into with their little dog. They have tried so many but no pets allowed. They are in their eighties. They do not want to lose their little dog.

When people move into sheltered accommodation, they may gain in terms of the care and attention they receive, but there are inevitable losses: of privacy, independence, the home they may have lived in for years. There may not be room for  treasured possessions accumulated over the years. If, on top of all that, they are also forced to part with a beloved companion animal, the loss may be too much to bear. The ‘No Pets Allowed’ rule is inhuman – and it shows that, even in the 21st century, many people simply do not (or do not want to) understand the strength of the bond and the distress caused when it is severed.

The problem is not just in sheltered housing. Many landlords, even in country areas, have a ‘No Pets’ policy, as we discovered 18 months ago when we were looking for somewhere to live.  ‘Advice’ given by a local Citizens’ Advice Bureau to a couple in financial difficulties was to get rid of some of their cats!

Luckily, the situation regarding sheltered accommodation is slowly improving. Some establishments have resident animals and others allow owners to move in with their existing pets. The Cinnamon Trust (contact details in the ‘Resources’ section at the end of this newsletter, ed.) has a register of nursing homes, care homes and sheltered homes which accept residents’ pets. I rang them and they told me that this trend is on the increase.

Thanks to the Cinnamon Trust, I am pleased to say that I was able to send the DF reader a list of 15 establishments in the relevant area – so hopefully the couple in question will be able to move with peace of mind and be spared the heartbreak of having to part with their little dog.

Your letters ……” *

Following my article in DF 34 about anniversaries, we received the following responses from DF readers:

Many thanks for the ‘early’ March issue of DF (No. 34).  It’s lovely, as always. It was especially touching to read the tribute to Eric upon his anniversary, and of course, I too am mindful that a week today, March 3rd, it will be a year since we had to say goodbye to Tam. (See DF 31, ed.)…..

 ….. I can’t believe that a year has passed and yet it seems a lifetime ago. I don’t think that I’ve allowed myself to grieve properly, even to this day. I kept myself busy last year with my new Remembrance hymn and prayer card project and didn’t dare allow myself time to stop for long enough and to think too much.

Thank you for your email and your kind thoughts for tomorrow as we mark the anniversary of Tam’s passing.   I actually cut the lawn, trimmed all the edges (of which there are many) and weeded the borders, a little, especially around the three trees, which each have a memorial plaque in memory of Lass, Meg and now, Tam.

I have attached a photograph of Lass’s Silver Birch Tree which I planted as a sapling in 2005. It was grown from a tiny seedling which I found under the hedge a year or two before and had been set by birds who visit our garden in significant numbers, all year round, to feast from the various feeding stations in the garden. In actual fact, all three of the trees (Meg and

Tam both have Rowan trees) have been grown from seedlings set by birds, which was so much nicer and more meaningful for me to have been able to make use of Mother Nature’s bounty.

Enjoy the coming Springtime, Debby, ever hopeful that Eric and Tam will be able to spend their days resting in perpetual sunshine with our other dearly loved ‘Departed Friends’.

With every blessing.  Love from Linda  Bodicoat.

  It’s nearly a year now – in fact, 40 weeks. You see
I’ve counted every single week. We have a lantern; it sits outside where you sat. You were  comfortable and quiet just waiting for a little mouse to pass you by.

It shines brightly and twinkles just like you did. You were so patient and quiet, we miss you so much Jessie.  Please read DF32.  A quiet Lane, one car, and our life is not the same without you Jessie. I cannot put your photo in a frame – not yet – if ever: it’s too painful because you belong here not in a frame. Besides, pictures of you are in my heart all the time. We love and miss you every day; you are in our hearts forever.

Mum Dad and Mark xxxx

And please let’s not forget Rosie. Read about her in DF 32 – a beautiful 12 month old tabby cat who lived across the lane. Just 5 days after losing you Jessie we watched in horror one speeding car  – Just 1 year old, she was so lovely and sweet.


I was interested to read about your newsletter for animal bereavement.  I am a consultant therapist at a psychiatric hospital and we have many animals as part of our pet therapy program…..

….. These animals range from hamsters and fancy rats to corn snakes and a dog.  Our animal therapy program has been running for about 18 months and I have started to think about how to handle the bereavement of these pets with the patients who have become highly attached to them. I thought the news letter or any other information you have may be useful in preparing me for what is the sad inevitable.

I would love to give you some more information on the kinds of Animal Therapy and Animal Assisted Therapy we do at the Hospital ….. The work includes animals as a medium for therapy.  We have two hamsters, a guinea pig, two fancy rats as well as a visiting corn snake, two rabbits and an employed therapy dog (my pet).  We also provide regular horse riding and horse management.  The majority of the patients I work with have suffered very distressing childhoods and therefore struggle immensely with life.  The pets give great comfort and are non judgemental and love unconditionally which is why they are so important to my work (and life).                                                        Louise  H

As it is now more than two years ago that we lost our feline friend, “Tiggy”, I feel the time is right to discontinue receipt of your excellent publication, “Departed Friend”… From the beginning, it has been a great help and benefit to us, a great help in overcoming the initial overwhelming mantle of grief and the sharing of such pain with the stories of others in the same state of loss of a four-footed friend.

However, the situation is easier to bear now and so we move on.  We have another cat, “Danny”, another friend in the house but never a “replacement”.  You will know what I mean.  We had him from the Cat’s Protection Society who had themselves acquired him from the Police who had found him wandering and abandoned on a motorway, a small, frightened, neglected and cruelly abused little ball of fluff.  His first name, therefore, via the Police was “Bobby”.  The Cat’s Protection Society, seeing he was a bit of a tabby, called him “Smokey” but classified him as female, so when we acquired this tiny animal, we called it “Matilda”, name number three.  Taking it to the Vet for initial checkover and inoculation, we reached the time when the information was being tapped into the Vet’s computer.  “Funny name for a boy”, he said, “Matilda “?  Well, he had already  tapped in M-a-t….so we quickly re-named the animal as “Matthew !”  Name number  four.  Later, to save all confusion, we changed it finally to “Danny” (as in “Danny Boy”, The Londonderry Air), and “Danny” he remains.  A wonderful, funny and affectionate friend. I thought you might like to read this story. Actually, sometimes he gets a sixth name when I catch him digging-up my plants, but I’ll keep that to myself !                                                           Dennis Martin 


I was very pleased to see Eddie’s tribute, (DF 34). You did a great job and I’m very grateful for that. In a strange way it helped. I showed all my friends and I was so proud to say ‘that’s my little girl there’. What I also found helpful in your news letter was to read about your cat Eric who passed away only a year ago, to see that I’m not the only one who lights candles for them and has a little collection of things ie: ornaments. I always remember my cat Mindy on the anniversary of her death and will do the same for Eddie, I find candles very spiritual. I have also experienced the pleasure of seeing Eddie here and there. The same happened when Mindy died; I assume that’s normal.

Kindest regards   
Sarah Croft


Mindy was taken from us on the 7th of May 2006, she was found in a black plastic bag at the side of the road. I was first re-united with her spirit about two nights after her death. We have large patio doors at the back of the house, it was dark outside , I was sat on the sofa watching television and out of the corner  of my eye I saw her appear at the glass, I smiled , got up, opened the door and let her in. The second experience with her spirit was one night when I was laid in bed I felt her jump onto me, I acknowledged her by just saying hello. I never felt or saw her again.

 ~ by Sarah Croft ~

Tribute to Lucky

On Boxing Day morning 2008 we lost Eddie to the road too, in the same place as Mindy. Again, about two days later at night, her face appeared at the door, I got up, opened the door to let her in but she did her naughty trick she always did, she ran off into the darkness, she never did come back to the glass! Other sightings have been where she ran past me whilst I was walking up the stairs and I have seen her asleep on the bed in her favourite spot. There were a few times I heard her meow too, she was very noisy!!

The strange thing is, seeing their spirits always happened to me when I was on my own, so trying to explain what had happened to me made everyone think I was mad. I know I’m not mad, I feel very privileged that they wanted to visit me.

I have not seen Mindy or Eddie since their last visits, I assume they are far too busy at Rainbow Bridge! X

~ by Sarah Croft ~

Tribute to Lucky

When my dad died Mum was lonely and very sad.  Spring was round the corner when one morning a black cat walked in; he wore a red collar. He had a lovely face and a shiny silky black coat. I do not have a photo but you can imagine what a beautiful little boy he was. He looked at Mum. “If  I feed you” she said, “You won’t eat your tea when you get home.” But she always keeps pouches in the cupboard; she gave him one. Afterwards he looked out of the window then settled on the settee and fell asleep. Mum sat next to him and he got on her knee. She saw on his collar his name was Lucky but no address. It turned out he lived only a short walk away. The man had brought him home from work to live with them as the warehouse was closing. Although Lucky was well cared for, he did not like being left on his own through the day; he loved human contact. He had a cat flap so out he came! All the neighbours grew fond of Lucky and welcomed him in. He became the neighbourhood cat but most of all he went to Mum’s and sat on her knee; he loved being stroked.

One morning when Lucky came in, Mum noticed he was wearing a brand new tartan red collar. “That’s smart” Mum said.  Mum lives near a primary school and every afternoon if Lucky was in he usually was he would go out at the same time and when the children came out of school they would run up to stroke him with their mums and Lucky loved it. He was an adorable little cat and the children loved him; so did Mum.

Lucky was a happy little cat but about 3 years later a grey cat with a collar followed him into the garden. Lucky was quite upset and chased the cat away but he kept coming back. When Lucky went into Mum’s he waited in the garden; he probably just wanted to be friends but Lucky liked to be on his own.

A couple of weeks later Mum was worried as she had not seen him for two days; the neighbours were concerned as well and went out walking and shouting “Lucky!” 

At a time like this you think of allsorts – “What if…..?  What if…..? What if…..” is all you think of, but what if he really had got into a car with a little boy or girl from school (he was so friendly) then run out and got lost?  How awful.

That’s when I decided to ring the school up – and when I did, nothing could prepare me.  What they said the care taker goes into school very early on a morning.

On this particular morning a few days before, just going past Mum’s and almost at the school gates, nobody was around; everywhere was quiet – she saw him lying there in the middle of the road. She parked the car, picked him up and carried him into school. She knew him by his red tartan collar but who could she contact with no address on his collar?

It was very sad. We called for his collar. The people who owned Lucky were too upset and asked Mum if she would like to keep his collar. Mum stroked his red tartan collar and cried; she keeps it in a safe place.

Lucky, were you chasing that little grey cat home across the road? Is that what happened? Did you get caught by a car or maybe you were on your way back. I know it’s very sad and the grey cat is staying on his side now – I think he knows.

You were a loving and gentle pussy cat with a wonderful disposition who loved human contact. No wonder everyone loved you and looked out for you. A door was always open for you but I think Mum was your favourite. We love you and we miss you so very much – our beautiful darling Lucky xxxx                                        Celia Francis

Animal Therapy at a Psychiatric Hospital

(see also letter above from Louise H, consultant therapist)

Interview with Louise:

Do you think there are different or additional factors in patients’ bereavement from bereavement in the wider community?

Different factors – patients are more fragile in the mental state. Bereavement causes emotional instability, especially if they are depressed anyway. Also, lots of them are in hospital – institutionalised from a very early age. They get to their 20s or 30s and this is the first time they experience bereavement. That’s why we have to be sensitive and caring. It is also more difficult, the pet being the only thing that loves them truly, deeply, unconditionally. A pet doesn’t  care if they self-harm or are depressed. The patients have never had unconditional love from the family. It is tragic for them – and generally distressing for everybody. These animals have helped them in so many different ways: been family, friend, confidante – been everything to them. And they just go away.

Horse therapy at the hospital

Interview with Sarah: (Louise’s Mum, who is currently training to be a therapist and helps Louise in her work)

What do you think vet practices should/should not do to help bereaved clients?

When I was a veterinary nurse in a practice 30 years ago, our progressive vet realised there was a need for cremation – so we had a building in the back of the unit. Owners didn’t want to stay. It helps to have a different room for planned euthanasia and always allow the owners to go out a different way. They could send an invoice rather than demand immediate payment. In vets I use now, we always get a handwritten sympathy card, including the animal’s name. When nursing, I would love to have done this – but never did. They acknowledge the fact that you feel sad.  When I was in practice, we didn’t do much as we felt that the last people bereaved owners would want to come back to was us. We always offered cremation or burial; the vet could arrange it. We collected the animal for burial or cremation; this cut out middle man – or the owner could take the animal home.

 A Patient’s Testimony

My One to One with Keira

I’ve had a lot more opportunity lately to spend and take care of Keira, and would say she has helped my mental state greatly.  For a number of weeks on a Wednesday, for about 3 hours at a time, I looked after Keira whilst Louise took another patient to college.  I was extremely nervous and I felt it was a huge responsibility!  I used to take Keira to my room, and settle down for the evening, she used to fall asleep on my bed as I watched TV, as bizarre as it sounds Keira made me feel a sense of normality, and at times I forgot I was actually in hospital.  There were days before Keira was brought up to me, my mental state wouldn’t be great, I’d struggle with self-harm thoughts to the degree in my room I was nursed on one-to-one observations.  On many occasions, staff trusted me to go into my room without staff, as I had Keira with me.  It was so much better than having staff there as Keira helped improved my mood greatly to the degree I forgot about wanting to self-harm.  Keira is extremely good company to be with, she’s a very good distraction to unpleasant thoughts, She’s always pleased to see me, which makes me feel good about myself.


A therapy session with Assistance Dog, Keira




Departed Friend Newsletter No. 34 Mar ’09


Last Summer, I had to visit Histon in Cambridge. Only a short drive away is the village of Cottenham – and Bridge Farm Riding School, run by my namesake Debbie. She used to run the Alternative Riding School near Luton and I have many happy memories of wonderful times with all the horses and ponies and my special favourite – Spirit. (see DF no. 1 for my tribute to Spirit).  I rang Debbie and it was arranged that Peter and I would visit Bridge Farm when my business in Histon was finished.

It was good to see her again and to meet so many beautiful new horses and ponies. But it was best of all to see the ‘veterans’- Cassie, Omar and Magic. I remembered them all with great affection, especially Cassie, a fast and feisty chestnut I used to ride a lot, mostly after Spirit died.  She was much changed – now retired, a very arthritic old lady of 30, ancient in equine terms. She moved stiffly and slowly but seemed to enjoy grazing in the sunshine with her cronies. I took this photo of her. Debbie does not see her horses as economic units. Those who by reason of ill health or old age can no longer be ridden are retired – loved and looked after according to their needs. But Debbie is not afraid to end their suffering when life becomes burdensome to them. So I knew my old friends were still content.

Some time in the New Year, I had a feeling that Cassie had died and I visited the Bridge Farm website,

Sadly I was right – she had had to be put down in December, followed by Omar in January. Of the veterans, only Magic now remains – it is nearly the end of an era.          

Debby W

You folk here will never know
The Cassie I was ten years ago
I came all crippled with a hobbled walk
But I heard from others, all their talk
The ride, the kids, the dogs, the fun
And I joined in and I became one
Of the little mad ponies, faster than most
Like a jet propelled pencil, Debbie would boast
But to ride on me you had to have skill
Because I galloped off and never was still
Finally, my legs gave way and bent out the side
Sad to say now I can’t give a ride
But whenever you go to the ‘old horses end’
Remember me, I could be your friend

(Poem by Debbie; reproduced from Bridge Farm website)

Egyptian Society for Mercy to Animals

~ ESMA ~

This wonderful no-kill animal shelter in Egypt was founded in 2007 by ten phenomenal individuals.  Because of the obvious lack of attention to mistreated, abandoned and abused animals, they came together from all walks of life and backgrounds and created a safe haven for the four-legged creatures who cannot speak for themselves.  All founders are business professionals as much as animal rights activists, whether full-time or part-time. They noticed the severe shortage of animal welfare groups in Egypt and thus ESMA was established.  All have the same goal in mind and created a place for animals in need; creating public awareness and educating the children of that country. 

In their words, the true motivation and bonding factors were two incidences in early 2007, as Egyptian police officers were once again ordered to go on a stray-dog killing mission.  Among the 15 dogs shot that day was one pregnant female with two bullets, hitting her in her stomach and through the mouth, keeping her alive for 15 excruciating minutes while her unborn puppies spilled out of her abdomen onto the dirty street as people and children just walked past.  This female was named ESMA.

The second incident occurred the next day in a very affluent section of Cairo, in Mohandeseen.  An American Diplomat (Andrea Adler) had been caring for two strays for more than nine months, feeding them every single evening and even using them as assistants in her dog training sessions.  She named them Black Jack and Bandit. Both were shot at 8:00 o’clock in the morning right outside her window (she never heard the shots), where they lay in the blistering sun and heat all day, in the middle of the street, with people having to step over and around them.

The shelter, which does wonderful work for cats and dogs, offers sanctuary, veterinary care and adoption facilities. Their website is well worth a visit.


This is Angel. She was hit by a car and sustained multiple fractures.  ESMA took her in and launched a successful appeal for funding for the urgent operations that she needed.  

The shelter and the website are dedicated to Esma, Black Jack and Bandit.

 * May you rest in peace, our sweet angels”

When no words will bring comfort…..

How can we help?

I wrote in DF no. 9 about ‘When grief is made worse’, giving examples such as losing a human and an animal close together; losing a very young animal; where the death is sudden or unexpected; not being present; etc.

Lately I have been wondering how to respond if someone  perceives their situation as utterly hopeless – for instance, if they have no-one to talk to, or people don’t understand and say insensitive things, resorting to ridicule or contempt. There may be other traumatic or disastrous occurrences in their lives (e.g. losing home, job and animal in quick succession; being in bad health, etc).

Sometimes it is possible to reassure the owner that the death was quick and painless – but not always.  Some animals suffer a prolonged, agonising death – through illness, accident, poisoning…. Or it might have been avoidable, due entirely to the owner’s negligence and then they are racked with guilt. In these circumstances, it is not helpful to say: ‘Don’t feel guilty.’ It is better to listen quietly, respectfully and without judgement to what they have to say.

So, faced with a situation that seems totally hopeless, what can we do? Some of it may be very hard for us to hear, as it may cause us personal pain and distress if we feel the anguish of the bereaved person, or get an idea of what the animal went through. We need empathy and compassion and above all, the ability to listen, so we can help the sufferer get it off their chest, lift themselves out of that rut and take the first tiny steps towards coming to terms with their loss. It really does help to talk to someone.  We may need to:

Help the person to know that their feelings are perfectly natural and that they are not alone.

Listen to the story as many times as they need to tell it.

Appreciate the unique qualities of the special animal. Talk about the animal, using his/her name – reminisce, look at photographs together if this is not too painful.

Don’t give false comfort. Being honest acknowledges the depth of the sorrow and brings a kind of relief; the person knows their grief is not being trivialised.  When my son asked me, at the age of 4, why his friend had drowned, I had no easy answer. I sat him on my lap, held him and said: ‘I don’t know.’

Allow the person to go into graphic detail about the illness, accident or manner of death if they need to. Try not to recoil; don’t shrink from listening to what is unhearable. They probably feel isolated in the horror and if they want to express or externalise it, allow them to do so, as bringing it out into the open can help lighten the darkness.

Grief is a hard road to travel; there are no short cuts, but it can certainly help to have someone walk it with you.  If it is too much to handle, or there is a risk of suicide, the bereaved person must be encouraged to seek immediate professional help. Hopefully, as they make the journey, they will gradually remember the good times, as the happy memories eclipsed by the death begin to resurface and once more come to light – like the snowdrops that have reappeared around my cat Eric’s grave, one year on from his death.

Do you have any ideas or thoughts on this subject? If so, we would be very interested to hear them.  Ed.

Eddie (also known as Pea)

Taken from us suddenly on Boxing Day 2008 by the nasty road people.

So dearly missed every day.

The house is so quiet without you around, you were our noisy furry alarm clock on a morning, in & out all night. We shall miss the supply of frogs, birds & worms bought to us as gifts on a daily basis. You were such a character & this shall live on in your memory of many we have.

Sweet dreams Pea
Until we meet again.
With lots of love from
Mummy, Daddy & Big Brother Mork

 + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

Your Letters ………..……” *

Remember the greyhound who died last year after being neglected in a police station?  (See DF no. 28, Ed)  Last week was the anniversary of his death and wreaths were placed on his grave in remembrance of him.

John Cowen

This is indeed a wonderful thing to hear about ….  We have many many stories if ever you need more material for your magazine,  I look forward to reading your magazine and thanks so much for what you are doing in the memory of our beloved ones.

Susie Nassar, Special Appeals Co-ordinator, ESMA

I thought that you might like to see photographs of  the  Remembrance Service (for animals) in London (Nov.2008).   Miranda Richardson and Jenny Seagrove both attended. Miranda Richardson is in the back ground on one of the photographs.Linda Bodicoat  

 ~ Tribute to LILY ~

1987 – 21st January 2008

Lily came to us when she was four years old. Having been rescued as a kitten by my mother, she lived with my grandfather until he took up residence in a nursing home.  Shortly after our marriage, Lily settled in with us and became part of our family. She had a fiery temperament, very gentle at times though and she stood no nonsense from anyone.

Lily was a beautiful long haired tabby cat in her prime, admired by our male cats and looked up to by our cat Jasper when he was a kitten. It was a pleasure to see her take him round the garden for the first few weeks of his life with us, showing him the sights and our garden. He idolised her and followed her lead. They became firm friends.

  When she was six years old, Lily had a head on collision with a car in front of our eyes and disappeared underneath it. Our immediate thoughts were that she must be dead. She could not have survived the hit. When we searched underneath the car she was nowhere to be found. The sound of the impact brought outside local residents to see what the noise was. There was absolutely no sign of her anywhere. We searched gardens

until we couldn’t think of where else to look. We went home stunned by what had happened but there waiting for us on the doorstep was Lily, unscathed and not a mark on her. She cashed in most of her nine lives on that day.

She took more care of herself after that and lived another ten years until her next major incident when she had to have an eye removed. She was already losing her sight, which worried us but she was a strong, independent cat and showed that she was made of sterner stuff. She adapted very well and lived a normal life, just as when she had both eyes. She seemed unaffected by the loss.

As Lily grew older, her temperament mellowed and she became much more gentle and enjoyed sitting on a lap and being cuddled.

In her final few years, she enjoyed life in our garden and never ventured far and took up occasional residence in my husband’s workshop where she enjoyed listening to the radio with him and watching him work. In her final months she preferred to live in the workshop and found her way around equally as good in the dark as in the light.

She was a truly amazing cat and lived to the grand old age of twenty one, succumbing to thyroid and old age problems. She was an inspirational cat, much loved and treasured by us for the seventeen years she was with us.

Every cat is unique as we have discovered by the number of cats who have entered our lives and passed on. It is a pleasure to look after cats and for me that pleasure far outweighs the grief at the end of the journey, even though the pain of loss is great.

Nancie Gaunt

MARY and other loved ones

~ remembered ~

Mary was being fed by an old friend on his wall, and when he told me she looked pregnant I took her in.  She had four lovely kittens – one grey tabby boy who she lifted out of her kittening bed repeatedly until he died. She obviously knew something was wrong. I didn’t.  She must have had many kittens as she was so droopy underneath her body. She had a lovely thick patterned fur.  So I had her spayed and she lived happily with us and our cats in the enclosed garden, which she could venture from by climbing the trees and away adventuring.

Her bed was on top of my ancient whirlpool washer dryer and she shook at every spin without caring. She supervised every washing up next to me at the sink but never helped.  Her friendly company was enough

Sadly on February 7th 2008 she and Minty had to go to the vets. Then, after repeated medication and vet visits, Mary had to be released to the long sleep on March 4th 2008. What

started as a sore mouth revealed a gum tumour which extended behind her eye and into her brain. The tumour we were initially unaware of took her life.She is remembered as a beautiful happy cat.  

My neighbour Irene had taken in Jasper Carrot, a thin ginger and white stray, around September 2007, very timid and afraid and hungry. He began to stagger and she asked me to take him to the vets, and she didn’t think I would be bringing him back. On examination he was very weak and had a problem inside his abdomen and the vet advised euthanasia. So poor little Jasper had to be eased out of his suffering quickly. He had just under a year of kindness and regular food at Irene’s house. He is buried in her garden, near the rose trees with her other much loved cats.

Please also include Lucky, a black and white kitten who a friend brought in from crossing a busy main road outside his house, to the park opposite. Liking to play out, Lucky’s life was taken by a car on the same road this year, to be found by his distraught human friend who had given him such a lovely life with his other pet cats.

The main road claimed the life of a long haired all white cat outside my house, late at night. I had never seen this beauty previously and could only retrieve her or him and call the Council worker the morning after to take the body to be scanned in case he or she was microchipped for the owner’s sake, for identification.

What Nancie didn’t tell you  ~ Lily as a small kitten with her sibling (a short haired grey tabby) were being hurtled along by some boys on rubber cords tied around their necks – so fast the kittens were airborne. I took the kittens off the boys and released the cords. After a while I had to let them out into the garden. Lily came back but maybe the short haired one had a neck injury as she never returned. I wish I’d taken them to the vets.  So many tragedies – so many unloved strays.

Pauline Edington


When we lose an animal we love, the date of our friend’s passing often becomes fixed in our mind, never to be forgotten, like seasonal holidays or birthdays. Some dates can be especially poignant, as for one DF reader who lost her cat on Valentine’s Day. 18-month old Eddie (Pea), whose tribute appears in this edition of the newsletter,          lost her life on Boxing Day.

A year passes – how do we feel?  Some people may prefer not to dwell on the past or mark the anniversary in any way, giving it at the most a passing thought before focusing firmly on the present or the future. 

Others may only commemorate the first anniversary, or they may do something every year – like visiting the crematorium or putting flowers on the grave.  There are no rights and wrongs: everyone is different and what helps one person might not suit another.

Eric died on 13 February 2008, and we were very conscious that this year was his first anniversary.  It was a poignant time for us and we could hardly believe that he had been gone a year.

In the evening, we arranged candles (some scented) on a table, around a large wooden effigy of an Egyptian cat.               We dimmed the lights, lit the candles and put on some relaxing music. We sat quietly, meditating and thinking of Eric. (One of the pieces of music we played was John Lennon’s Beautiful Boy – we had played this last year after Eric’s burial in the garden, and it really hit the spot.  It did so again this time. I will always associate that particular song with my beautiful boy).

Celebrating Eric’s life and commemorating his death in this way felt right, and though it was quite emotional, it was healthy – and in the morning I felt that another step had been taken in the process of ‘moving on’.  The candles are no longer alight, but the shrine is still in place – for a while.

And I like to think that somehow Eric was with us that night, taking pleasure in our ritual of remembrance and knowing that he will always be remembered with love.

We would be interested to know how other people cope with anniversaries. Is it important to you to do something to commemorate your animal, or do you prefer to do nothing, and treat anniversaries as just another day, in the spirit of ‘Life goes on’? 


enabling people to do more with horses

Freedom Rider was started in 1996 in the United States by Victoria Surr, a horsewoman with over 35 years of riding and driving experience.  She was encouraged by a close friend who is disabled and shows her own horses.  Her friend was having a hard time finding things that could be adapted to her special needs, and Victoria Surr realised that there were many other people out there who would like to be able to find these kinds of things in one catalogue.

Ms Surr had the honour of addressing a North American Riding for the Handicapped Association (NARHA) conference.  She spoke about how Freedom Rider began:

“About seven years ago I was between horses. At the barn where I had kept my previous horses, there was a disabled woman who had a Morgan gelding named Freedom. This woman, Linda, was looking for someone to  help her with some of the physical aspects of caring for her horse ….. so in exchange for riding Freedom, I started going to carriage driving shows with Linda. 

Linda and I became friends. I acted as her able bodied whip while she drove in carriage dressage and pleasure driving classes.  It was through a conversation with Linda that I had the brainstorm of an idea that became Freedom Rider.

I had just started researching equipment and products when the unthinkable happened. Freedom died. It was very sudden, the vet said it was most likely an aneurism. It was very devastating to Linda and me, but especially to Linda. At Linda’s suggestion, I named my fledgling business Freedom Rider, after the horse that had meant so much to her.”

Freedom Rider became a real catalogue and Ms Surr continues to search out products that are easy to use, enabling equestrians to do more with horses, on the ground and while riding or driving. She has also developed new products specifically for equestrians with disabilities, that are available through the Freedom Rider catalogue.  Items include specially adapted saddles, bridles, reins; equipment such as mounting blocks and steps; books, videos and DVDs of instruction, on safety and therapeutic riding. Products can be ordered by email, via the website or by telephone, toll free from within the United States on   1-888-253-8811. From outside the USA, call 1-603-645-1811. Printed catalogues are usually sent within 6-8 weeks from time of request. Freedom Rider can be reached by mail at: PO Box 4187, Manchester, NH 03108-4187 USA.

My thanks to Vicky who rides at Greenacres Equestrian, Batford, near Luton, England, for information about this inspiring resource.  Ed.


 Eric’s snowdrops ~ one year on  

Departed Friend Newsletter No. 33 Dec ’08


My darlings Whiskers and Tiggy





A beautiful tabby cat was hanging about in the garden, She was so timid we couldn’t get near her. I knew the first time I saw her she was a she, she was so pretty.  Eventually she took some food from the dish I had been trying to tempt her with ~ Yes you’re a hungry girl I told her.

A few weeks before, we had taken in a tortie pussy cat that looked so bedraggled and thin, she was padding the carpet with her paws ~ claws out quite traumatised. I rang the local vets and asked if anyone had reported her missing, Secretly hoping no one had; we had fallen in love with her. We decided to call our tortie Tiggy.

 Tiggy soon settled in with us she loved the warmth from the fire and the new basket and blanket we bought for her. When Tiggy went out in to the garden we noticed the gorgeous tabby cat would always appear and play with her. So of course we started feeding her too, she was always hungry and asking for food.

It took some time before the tabby cat dared to come in to the house but the two of them were great friends.

It was winter and so very cold. In she came for some food and stayed hidden behind the curtain for about 3 hours. We decided to call her Whiskers, She was a real Beauty. The kind you see on a calendar, so cute, but untouchable. It upset us to think she couldn’t trust us enough to let us stroke her. But never mind at least we could feed her and offer her warmth. Whiskers lived with us on her own terms! And to be honest I felt privileged to have her. Oh how beautiful you were.

Tiggy was just the opposite; you could do anything with her she was so happy to have a home and be loved. Tiggy was much older than Whiskers, They seemed an unlikely pair. We never did find out where they had come from. We began to wonder if someone had died and they had been thrown out. No-one knew them. Anyway it was our gain ~ they were never any trouble.

One evening I had been out and when I came home Tiggy was in the yard when I pulled in with the car. She was coughing ~ making a funny noise. I immediately picked her up. Maybe she had a furball stuck in her throat but no, she had difficulty breathing. We took her straight to the vet who said all her organs were closing down ~ there was nothing they could do. He said she was quite old.

We came home devastated. She was such a delight and we were honoured to have had her for the last 18 months of her life.

Whiskers was looking all over for Tiggy, she seemed lost, she didn’t eat for a few days and was mewing and searching, she wouldn’t stay in the house at all. We thought we were going to lose her as well, but we continued to feed her and coax her; eventually she started coming back inside and would only let us stroke her when she was in her bed snug and warm. She hated to be picked up and was always panicky if she was cornered; you just had to do things her way or not at all. Who knows what trauma she might have had before we got her.  Your coat was so thick and always so clean. You really were gorgeous!! Whiskers lived with us for another 3 years after we lost Tiggy.

I still can’t believe you’re not here with us. One Sunday morning Michael my husband came back upstairs to say you were ill, you weren’t in your bed, you were laid on the mat near the kitchen door and you didn’t try to run away.

Your breathing was heavy and you were gasping for air. We took you straight to the vet.  It was terrible in the car because you were so panicky. Michael sat in the back with you and you wouldn’t stay in your bed. You were mewing so loud I could hardly concentrate on driving.  We rushed in to the vets and he was waiting for us, he saw you straight away, he told us not to touch you as you were critical. It was like a nightmare, This couldn’t be happening again; you weren’t old, you were too beautiful to die.  He gave you oxygen and you looked around to see where we were. I went to you to try and reassure you. There was nothing he could do.

Whiskers and Tiggy my gorgeous pussycats  we miss you every day.  God bless you both. I know you will be together playing in a lovely place where there is nothing to harm you.  We will see you again one day I know that.  We love and miss you both so much.

Jose, Michael & Richard Knowles



I lost my first dog Shep 31st July 2003.   When he had been diagnosed with inoperable cancer I felt like my world was falling apart.   Through a very dear friend we found a marvellous vet in North London who cured my Shep.    The 6 months that the vets had given him turned into almost 2 years and that awful Sunday morning he was diagnosed with acute heart failure.   I always felt I had let Shep down because I did not let Jenny put him to sleep.  He died later that afternoon.


Meg had been with me three and a half years.   She had been rescued from a pound because she was already around 9 years old and would have been put down within a couple of weeks because of her age.    She had been fostered by a lovely young lady named Emma.    I knew it was hard for Emma to let her go because I saw her crying as she drove off.  I had promised her she should not worry because Meg would be loved and looked after.

Within a couple of months Meg had lost the extra weight she had put on because of Emma giving her treats.  Emma had loved Meg but tried to make up for her being alone such a lot with treats!  Meg was not put on a diet but she ate what Sandy ate with just the odd treat plus going walkies twice a day.

From day one we could see Meg had some arthritis and we gave her glucosamine sulphate.   Meg was a border collie cross (Shep was a full BC).   From her actions etc Meg was about 90% BC.  She would herd and nip Sandy’s ankles which would sometimes result in a fight!  She followed me around just like Shep had done and now I feel as though my shadow has gone. 

My husband would say that she was getting worse each day but me, wanting to be the ostrich, would not answer.   Some mornings she would wake me up because she was ‘crying’.  It would sometimes take her ages to get up.   We have 6 stairs from our front door and kitchen to the lounge and in the recent mornings I would often have to help her up the last few stairs or even go and carry her up.

She would sit with me in the kitchen and often want to sit on my feet.   The kitchen is not so big so often when I had to pull a low drawer out I would have to ask her ‘to mind your head’.  I did not have to have my husband tell me she was getting worse.  I did not need anyone to tell  me.  On Tuesday I went to the vet to order some Metacam and told her about Meg.  She advised me to bring her the next day, Wednesday, for a blood test.  The blood was not bad and all her organs were OK but she was anaemic.   Isabel and I sat for ages discussing what could happen and probably would happen.  She told me she knew of a good ‘bone’ vet but did I want to put Meg through any more.  There is no miracle cure for arthritis. 

Isabel knew how much I loved Meg and I knew I had to let go, but how?  I kept looking into Meg’s eyes and she kept ‘pawing’ me like normal to stroke some more.   Everyone tells me I did the right thing but why do I feel such a deep sense of guilt.  Why did I let her go now?   Did I do it for myself?   How long will I feel this pain in my heart and want to call her name? My friend told me that however they go, whether they die naturally or are put to sleep we will beat ourselves up.  She has been through both.

I know we will all be together again in the end.  I know that Shep and my father were there to meet her as she crossed over and she will, once again, be able to run around as she used to.  All I have now are my memories of a dear sweet little girl who loved me.

I am so glad that I have Sandy, my Greek rescue dog who is now 13+ and my little Spanish rescue dog who is 2.  They are helping me cope.

Maureen Shbero


My beautiful guardian angel

I will love you always.

Miss you so much.

Love Jackie. XXX


to all Departed Friend readers

We received a number of beautiful, moving tributes to dearly-loved companions – all within a short space of time. I felt I wanted to publish them all in this issue of the newsletter and the fairest way to do that was to print them in the order I received them – though I wish that they could all go on the front page, as they deserve. Our condolences to everyone who wrote in, and to people everywhere who have lost an animal they love.

Debby x

In the picture are my three beloved pets that I lost within six weeks of each other. Lotty was my precious little dog, who I found one October morning. She had been thrown over a wall across the road from my house, in the local supermarket garden. It had been a very cold and wet night and she was in a very poor state. Her skin was red and sore and she was cold, wet and hungry, but worst of all she was very frightened. In my eyes she was beautiful, I loved her straight away.

                Lotty was not an easy dog to settle into my life because she was so frightened, but with lots of love she became a part of the family. I loved her so much, she loved to be out on long walks, running and playing in the woods with me and Aunty Maureen, who was so good to you. You loved her lots and we were always together and the fun and happiness we shared I will always treasure.

                As the years went by Lotty’s legs began to get painful and after frequent visits to the vet, he said she needed an operation. Her leg was bad and she had rheumatism in her spine and hips. Pills and visits to the vets could help her no more, but oh! Lotty how I tried to keep you going, but she could hardly walk and I had to carry her across the road and back but the pain was too much. The vet came on Friday tea-time and Lotty barked at him as she always did. I held her in my arms and she looked up at me and I told her I loved her and what a good dog she was. Lotty was so special to me and now she is back home with me in a little casket and I talk to her every day, bless you Lotty, thank you for being my dog, love you now and always your heart broken mum Janet.

Millie and Mo-joe were my two beautiful cats, both ginger and white with Mo-joe being short haired and Millie having long hair. Brother and sister, their mother was a stray and was taken in by a cat lover, who cared for them all. I first saw them both at three weeks old and they looked gorgeous. They both came to live at my house when they were six weeks old, then the fun started.

You were so funny to watch, both liked to catch birds and mice and often I would come home to find one or the other in the kitchen. Mo-joe once brought a live pigeon through the cat flap and was so pleased with himself. The pigeon was ok. They both loved to lie in the garden when the sun was out but neither of them would wander far. Mo-joe always had a lot to say for himself and Millie was very quiet but was an extremely beautiful cat with her long hair.

                I had you both for 15 years but then Millie suffered with her back and back legs and one day she could hardly stand. I took her to the vets and he kept you in for a week. After various treatments she came home but it was not good as she had 5 slipped discs in her back, a few weeks later I had to let her go. She was put to sleep in my arms a month after Lotty, bless you Millie from your loving mum Janet, I love and miss you so much.

                Mo-joe was very lonely without Millie and Lotty but with lots of tender loving care he seemed to get over losing Millie and Lotty. He was never a strong healthy cat and was often sick and he suddenly became very poorly. Back to the vets we went and he kept you in to do lots of tests and x-rays, then the vet phoned me at work to say he was going to operate, he said you were very sick. Mo-joe got through his operation and came home four days later. Your tummy was all stitched up and you were only home 48 hours before we had to rush you back to the vets, you were so poorly and in lots of pain.

                Like Lotty and Millie I held you in my arms, wrapped in a blanket to keep you warm, he was so cold. I lost you 6 weeks after Lotty and two weeks after Millie. My Mo-joe I love and miss you so much, bless you, your loving mum Janet.

Lotty, Millie and Mo-joe are all back at home with me now, I thank you all for being my special pets. I will always remember you all, your heart broken mum,

Janet Nithsdale

It is always sad to lose a much-loved pet, but it is particularly hard to lose several in quick succession.  Our deepest sympathy to Janet in the loss of her three special friends so close together.


~~ WHITEY ~~

Our thanks to DF reader Sharon Hopkins and to Susie Nassar (Special Appeals Co-ordinator,ESMA) for this deeply moving tribute to a dear old dog who, in Sharon’s words, found real love at the end of his life.

 Whitey was deaf and blind when he was rescued by ESMA – The Egyptian Society for Mercy to Animals – (There will be a feature on ESMA in DF 34, March 2009 – ed). He was found abandoned in Tahrir Square running into cars and into walls. He was so scared when Bahra (his rescuer) picked him up that he was shaking all over.  She took him to her home for the night where she fed him by hand and he eventually felt comfortable and safe. After a good night’s rest and relaxation, Bahra brought him to his new home in the Cat House at the centre. The calm and quiet did wonders for him. He became very affectionate it was hoped that a patient owner could be found to guide him through the rest of his life.

Then Susie Nassar emailed with some sad news….


Sharon I have some bittersweet news…..Whitey passed away two days ago…. He was perfectly fine, had his meal, went back to his room (he used to sleep with the workers he was one of their favourites as he was so old and they felt sorry for him) and he never woke up….Let us just Thank God, that we found him and he spent his last days with us rather than roaming the streets terrified.                                                     


From the Media ………..Shrine for a cat that sat on every mat.

To some he was known as Ginger. Others called            him Dave or Atkinson. Some even knew him as Fonzworthy III.

   Now the death of a charismatic stray moggy who won the affection of an entire street has sparked a flood of ‘Diana-like’ tributes.

   Residents who once fed and fussed over him have laid poems, flowers and photographs at the spot where the ginger tom liked to stretch out to cat-nap.

   ‘He touched our lives in so many ways,’ said 40-year-old Keith Davis, of Holloway, Bath. ‘Although he was streetwise, he was wonderfully affectionate.

   ‘Collectively, we looked after him and he’ll be missed terribly.’

One tribute addressed to Dave read:

‘We’ve enjoyed your company immensely over the years and will miss and remember you.’ Tony Brown, 66, knew the cat as Atkinson. ‘When he died, we thought we ought to put a notice up because he was so well known,’ he said.



~~MAX ~~

Darling you only had one measly year,

That alone makes me shed a tear.

Little Lin you were so fondly known,

All I wanted was to see you fully grown.

Max this wasn’t how it was supposed to end,

You were my little man, my four legged friend.

Running in and out, here and there,

No matter which way I looked you were everywhere.

A mischievous boy trouble was your middle name,

That’s what sadly got you this fame.

The day you went missing my heart skipped a beat,

The day they found you I fell to my feet.

From that day forward I will never be the same,

All I have now is this aching pain.

I loved you so much and I will forever more,

All I want is my little black and white cat to walk through the door.

A kind hearted boy with a heart full of gold,

This story will be continued it will always be told.

RIP now my little Maxy love,

Go and play with the angels who will protect you above.

Love you always, your mummy Karla xXx


Shrine for a cat that sat on every mat.  Continued……. ‘Suddenly, there was an extraordinary outpouring of grief and this Diana-like shrine began to grow.  It was only then we discovered just how many people were looking after him.

   ‘You couldn’t own Atkinson, he was his own cat. My epitaph for him is he was owned by no-one but belonged to everyone.’  The 14-year-old feline was taken to the vet by Mr Brown when he saw he was unwell.  He was diagnosed with organ failure and put to sleep.


Metro, 18 September 2008


I have noticed and remarked before in DF that there has been a tremendous improvement in the way the media report animal bereavement issues – this is one of the best examples I have seen: treating the collective grief as perfectly normal – and with respect.        Debby.


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