Departed Friend Newsletter no. 41 Dec 2010

 Seasonal greetings to all our readers

The morning of 22 September will be held dear in the hearts of many for the rest of their lives. In the heart of the Cathedral City of Lincoln, within the sacred walls of the oldest Saxon church, St Mary le Wigford, a very special memorial service was held for Trollie, a Bedlington Lurcher dog who suddenly lost her life in July.  This day would have been Trollie’s 12th birthday.

Her owner, Trevor, had been “a man of the open road” until recently.  He rescued Trollie when she had been abandoned (dumped in a supermarket trolley) at only a few hours old.  Man and pup bonded in that instant and the two became good companions, travelling the length and breadth of the United Kingdom. They lived in woodland, rich with the scent of bluebells and, by stark contrast, slept in shop doorways, huddled together, keeping one another warm.

At a young age, Trollie had attended the Winter Solstice at Stonehenge and the Edinburgh Festival.

She helped Trevor sell copies of The Big Issue in places as wide-ranging as Bath, and by Oxford University. She lived on Travellers’ campsites, in tents and on a houseboat.  She loved her life with a passion and made hundreds of friends along the way. She even sported her own Big Issue vendor badge which read: “No. 1 dog”!

Suddenly, in July, her back leg snapped and in the most traumatic turn of events, she was diagnosed with a large tumour. The vet could have amputated but she would have suffered much pain. Trevor, out of kindness, made the dreadful decision to have his beloved companion laid to rest. The shock news of her departure quickly spread as the streets of Lincoln were awash with the tears of all her faithful followers.

What a wonderful gesture of support and a fitting tribute to Trollie that a Service in her memory and her honour be held in the holy place which both Trevor and Trollie frequented. Trevor had requested I help in organising this special event, and compose and read the Eulogy. What an honour.

Early morning the church opened its doors to prepare ~ framed photos of Trollie alongside two silk roses; one pink, one lavender, a miniature model boat bearing the name of our precious girl and lit candles were displayed close by the beautiful altar, neath stained glass windows through which strong sunshine reflected its rays and danced with the candles’ flames. Heavenly music played ~ the atmosphere created was ethereal.  Friends arrived and took their seats as the two priests presiding read prayers and spoke words which were deeply moving. Trevor held his head low throughout, his emotions running deep ~~

As we reflected upon our joy and our sorrow, chosen music was being played ~ the beautifully haunting “I cried for you” by Katie Melua ~ and cry we did, loud sobbing could be heard…… The church door quietly opened and in walked the bearer of Trollie ….. Short, breathy sobs could be heard as the priest took charge of the casket and so gently and lovingly placed it close by the altar and surrounded by bright, flickering candle flames.

Her soul and spirit were committed into safe, loving keeping and the service drew to its natural close, as Elgar’s “Nimrod” was played, a sombre, graceful classical composition, frequently played at funerals ~ it was extraordinarily moving and so rich in blessings.

There was one more surprise ahead – one overwhelming act which filled our hearts to bursting point. The casket containing Trollie, along with her photos and other artefacts, were carefully moved and placed by a window, overlooked by a magnificent statue of our Blessed Virgin Mary. Candles were lit all around her as yet another priest, complete in his splendid vestments, followed by other members of the church, filed down to the altar to commence and carry out the act of Holy Communion ~ in the highest tribute to, and in the presence of, our beloved Trollie. She knew what was taking place this day, in her honour – she was present in spirit ~ I felt her strong presence; she was peaceful, she was running through rich green fields. I bid her farewell as I cried without reserve. ~~

Before departing into bright sunlight, all in the congregation exchanged hugs or handshakes; new friendships were formed – yes, “Our Girl” was continuing to do in death just what she did best in life – bringing people together. She was working her magic and looking down upon us all – smiling.

She will remain in the church for a few days to come, receiving untold blessings – some of us shall visit her.

~ Her eternal star shall burn ever brightly.

Lynn Burman


For a copy of Lynn’s eulogy to Trollie, please send an A5 sized self-addressed stamped envelope to the Departed Friend address.  Ed.

Does anyone know of other places of worship whose ministers are willing to carry out similar services of memorial, or conduct funerals, for companion animals?  I would like to compile a directory of establishments* – religious, spiritual or secular – where these facilities are offered.

*(For example: churches, mosques, synagogues, temples, pet cemeteries and crematoria, humanist or spiritualist halls or meeting places).

Congratulations to all who offer this valuable facility; it is a mark of recognition and respect for the grief of humans as well as an affirmation of the priceless value of every living being, whatever their species.


ASWA Local Meeting

I was delighted to receive an invitation to a local meeting of ASWA (Anglican Society for the Welfare of Animals) for Saturday 30 October 2010.  ASWA and Departed Friend had for some time been exchanging information and newsletters and this was a good opportunity to find out more about ASWA’s work.

Janet and Nick Murphy welcomed us into their delightful home in Chesham, Buckinghamshire, which they share with their two cats and four rescue battery hens.  I felt very privileged to be allowed to hold one of the hens in my arms – she loved it and their trust in humans after what they have been through is remarkable.  Janet is also an extremely good cook and we were treated to a delicious selection of vegetarian and vegan home-made cakes and biscuits.

Then down to business.  Janet told the assembled gathering about the work of ASWA, whose remit is “Putting Animals on the Agenda of the Christian Church”. I was interested to learn that, despite its name, ASWA is interdenominational and reaches out to people of other faiths as well as to the secular community.  Their calling is to make Christians and others aware of the need to care for the whole of creation, and they are especially concerned with the abuse of animals. They believe God has given us a responsibility towards sentient beings of other species with whom we share this world, and they interpret the Biblical teaching of our ‘dominion’ over animals as ’loving care’ not ‘ruthless exploitation’.

ASWA provide speakers for church and other gatherings, and their Ministers have written services for Animal Welfare Sundays. They produce a regular newsletter and literature on a wide range of topics including hunting and shooting, the poultry industry, laboratory experiments and the use of animals in war. Their material is thoughtful and well researched – and well worth reading.

ASWA has links with animal welfare organisations across the globe, including the remarkable charity (Nowzad Dogs) featured immediately below.  Contact details for ASWA are in the Resources section of this newsletter.


Nowzad Dogs

(Reg. Charity no. 1119185)

 Nowzad is a charity set up to relieve the suffering of animals in Afghanistan and Iraq, predominantly stray and abandoned dogs, cats and donkeys, setting up rescue facilities for their care and attention.

Their other projects include providing fabric covers to fit over the uncomfortable chain harness and headcollars often worn by horses and donkeys, and the “trap, neuter, release” programme for stray dogs.

It all started when the lads of 5 Troop, Kilo Company, 42 Commando Royal Marines arrived in the war torn town of Now Zad in the Helmand Province of Afghanistan in November 2006.

Royal Marine Sergeant Pen Farthing takes up the story:

When we first arrived in the town of Now Zad I broke up a dog fight that was taking place right outside our remote compound. What I didn’t know was that one of those fighting dogs would then befriend me! I couldn’t say no to those big sad eyes, the now very former fighting dog, became my buddy and found himself a name – Nowzad”.


Sgt. Pen Farthing with Nowzad

Soon the first ever dog warden of Now Zad was looking after two more dogs “RPG” and “Jena”, strays that were very under nourished and didn’t look like they would survive the onslaught of the approaching Afghan winter.

Unbelievably they then gained “Tali” who crept in under the gate carrying 6 little puppies followed by an injured “AK” bringing up the rear. And then to complicate matters “Jena” had 8 puppies as well.

In a quiet corner of the base Pen and two fellow Marines, Dave & John, built the dogs a modest dog run of sorts and for the dogs’ added safety they added on a mortar shelter to hide in, which luckily also provided some warmth during the extreme cold of the long winter nights.

The dogs went from scavenging food one day to eating two decent meals a day courtesy of the left over military rations that the Royal Marines didn’t eat!

Pen had already decided that he was going to try and get the dogs to a better life. But being stuck in the small town of Now Zad he had very limited communications with the outside world. With the help of his wife back in the UK they managed to track down an animal rescue centre in the far north of the country.

The only problem was that the Royal Marines had to get the dogs to the safety of the rescue but they couldn’t use military transport as it was against regulations………

To donate or find out more about the charity, or to obtain a copy of “One Dog at a Time” (Sgt. Farthing’s book about how they got several dogs, including Nowzad, out of Afghanistan) write to:

PO Box 3495, Corsham, Wiltshire SN13 7AE

or visit:

 (With thanks to ASWA and to my friend Lynda, whose son has served in Afghanistan, for information about Nowzad Dogs) – Ed.


Hoofbeats in Heaven

The Spirit of Your Horse Lives On … 

When Cindy lost her beloved horse, Beau, she had difficulty finding any online support group that could really relate to her loss – so she created her own.  Cindy was aware that, while it is now more recognised that dogs and cats are part of the family, horses are still often considered to be merely livestock – a perception that any of us who have ever loved or lost a horse will hotly dispute.

The site has a rich variety of resources to help people in their grief: pages where memorial tributes plus photographs can be posted without charge; a virtual candle-lighting in memory of lost loved ones; quotations from people who understand and deeply value horses – as well as an email support group. This does not consist of counsellors, but of people who have loved and lost, who comfort and help each other.

There is also artwork by the famous artist Kim McElroy, who is renowned for her wonderful paintings of horses. Some people asked her to produce portraits of their horses, which she willingly did; this resulted in the beautiful portrait: Hoofbeats in Heaven. The picture provided healing for the bereaved, and the notion of the spirit of their own horse crossing over to join the herd. Participants reported feeling more able to move through their grief – and each received a reproduction of the original painting (the original resides with Cindy).

Copyright prevents me from reproducing anything directly from the website, so please visit


This is Harvey – my Lovely, Lovely Boy

Thank you so very much for the lovely newsletters of Departed Friend.  It means so much to me and has helped me so much with the loss of my beautiful boy Harvey.  He was a Blue Roan Spaniel, so very, very special; his loss is so great.

He was 15 years old when he went to Rainbow Bridge. He had diabetes and he had gone blind.  It would mean so much if you would mention him in Departed Friend.  Thank you again.  Some stamps are in with this letter.  I love him so much; he was always with me.

 Carole Ann Share


Your letters ……

As the year draws to a close, I’d like to remember our Tace and I’d like this small donation to be in Tace’s memory so you can help and support other people who have lost a much loved pet like me, because you have been a big help and comfort to me over these past months.

So please keep up the good work and God Bless. I’ll keep in touch.  Have a lovely Christmas.  Love and best wishes

Kath & family & woof woof Ty-son


 (We are most grateful to Kath Greenslade for her generous donation in memory of her beloved companion.  For Kath’s poem tribute to Tace, see      DF no.39, June 2010)

Many thanks for all copies of the newsletter; I have passed most of them on now to very positive comments!

I have a new cat friend now … his name is Chesster; very black, very loving and very good.  Isn’t it amazing how life has a way of almost making decisions for us?   I can only say we are very happy with each other.

I enclose a small cheque to help with stationery costs. Best wishes and thanks from Pauline. xx

p.s. He comes to bed with me and sits on my lap most of the evening – shades of Tinka – who I think is having words in his ear!

Pauline West


(For Pauline’s tribute to Tinka, see DF no. 40, Sept. 2010)


I just wanted to say a big thank you for sending me all the poems, stories, newsletters and putting me on the mailing list since the passing of my dog in January of this year; they have been a great source of comfort to me.

I don’t feel I will ever get over her passing but with each new day comes a new dawn, a new beginning, the chance of a new life.  She was and continues to be my daily Joy but in a different way now; I feel her loving energy around me  but I do miss being able to hold her close physically … she became part of me and when she passed that part of me died and went with her.



Animals in Heaven

(With thanks to Mary O’Brien for sending me this story) 

 An old man and his dog were walking along a country road, enjoying the scenery, when it suddenly occurred to the man that he was actually dead. He remembered dying, and that his dog too had been dead for many years. He wondered where the road would lead them, and continued onward.  After a while, they came to a high, white stone wall along one side of the road.  It looked like fine marble. At the top of a long hill a tall white arch that gleamed in the sunlight broke it.

When he was standing before it, he saw a magnificent gate in the arch that looked like mother of pearl, and the street that led to the gate looked like pure gold.

He was pleased that he had finally arrived at heaven, and the man and his dog walked toward the gate. As he got closer, he saw someone sitting at a beautifully carved desk off to one side. When he was close enough, he called out, “Excuse me, but is this heaven?” “Yes it is, sir,” the man answered.  “Wow! Would you happen to have some water?” the man asked. “Of course, sir, come right in, and I’ll have some ice water brought right up.” The gatekeeper gestured to his rear, and the huge gate began to open. “I assume my friend can come in?” the man asked, gesturing toward his dog. But the reply was “I’m sorry, sir, but we don’t accept pets.”

The man thought about it then thanked the gatekeeper, turned back toward the road, and continued in the direction he had been going. After another long walk, he reached the top of another long hill, and he came to a dirt road that led through a farm gate. There was no fence, and it looked as if the gate had never been closed, as grass had grown up around it. As he approached the gate, he saw a man just inside, sitting in the shade of a tree in a rickety old chair, reading a book. “Excuse me!” he called to the reader. “Do you have any water?” “Certainly, there’s a pump over there,” the man said, pointing to a place that couldn’t be seen from outside the gate. “Come on in and make yourself at home.” “How about my friend here?” the traveller gestured to the dog. “He’s welcome too, and there’s a bowl by the pump,” he said. They walked through the gate and, sure enough, the man filled the bowl for his dog; he then took a long drink himself.

When both were satisfied, he and the dog walked back toward the man, who was sitting under the tree waiting for them, and asked, “What do you call this place?”  “This is heaven,” was the answer.  “Well, that’s confusing,” the traveller said. “It certainly doesn’t look like heaven, and there’s another man down the road who said that place was heaven.” “Oh, you mean the place with the gold street and pearly gates?” “Yes, it was beautiful.”  “Nope. That’s hell.”  “Doesn’t it offend you for them to use the name of heaven like that?”  “No. I can see how you might think so, but it actually saves us a lot of time. They screen out the selfish people who are willing to leave their friends behind who have served them so loyally.”

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