Departed Friend Newsletter no. 44 September 2011

Following her tribute to Jessica and the feature on the parallel feelings of grieving and loving again (DF no. 43) Hazel Fernandes has sent us this moving account of life with her other cat:

Marmalade Angel Francisco Fernandes

When I saw Marmalade for the first time, he hissed at me like a snake!  He was very much a free-spirited semi-feral cat who liked to roam around the neighbour-hood back gardens with a colony of strays.  I had merely opened the back door and briefly glimpsed him, but he greeted me with an angry hiss. He was too afraid to approach me, as he was a stray, and like Jessica was deeply mistrustful of humans, but gradually I talked to him softly in a high-pitched voice and gave him morsels of food & he learned to trust me.

 He was fearful and afraid of humans, I thought that he was bullied, and he was very thin too, but after I adopted him he burst forth and blossomed into the beautiful cat he is today, he is very much King of his  Castle!

He learnt his name quickly, before he moved in he was the first one to investigate his new home & check it was suitable for himself & Jessica.  He used to visit Jessica every day, as they were inseparable, and to see if she was OK.  I found out that he was a very intelligent cat. He is very much a tactile cat and loved to sit on my lap and stretch out his long paws.  I love watching him stretch, as I think he looks like a soldier. He is fascinated by water & enjoys watching it & even drinking out of the bath & sink.

On Friday 20 May, my Marmalade went out to play outdoors, and he did not return home until 6pm, we were concerned, as he usually pops in, time to time to see what’s going on, and when he did come home he was sneezing non-stop, he did eat his meal, but he was rather weak and not his normal self, he did not want to be close to me at night.

On Saturday 21 May at 11.40am, I took Marmalade to the vet’s.  I explained that I did not know how old he was, and that I found him as a stray, and nobody looked for him for One and a Half Years.  I also told the vet that Marmalade was sneezing non-stop.

The vet took various tests and said he thought Marmalade might have Cat ‘Flu or maybe he had eaten something that he should not or had a piece of grass stuck up his nose.  He then scanned Marmalade for a microchip, as this was the protocol for strays, at first he could not find anything, then he found a chip.

He wrote down the number and told me that he wanted to track down the owner, and my heart sank as I had bonded with him for one and half years. I had just lost Jessica 2 months ago and it looked like I would be losing another cat now, so I left the practice with a heavy heart.

On Monday 23 May I telephoned the vets to ask them about the chip, and the veterinary nurse told me that the owner was happy for me to own Marmalade & that they had had him from a kitten and that he had run away as a stray because they had had a baby.  I was overjoyed that at last I had Marmalade & found a little information about him.

On Thursday 26 May I telephoned Pet Log and it transpired that I needed a 15 digit number, which I obtained eventually.  Pet Log said that they would register Marmalade with me, and they told me that he was born in 2008 and that his name was ANGEL!

I was speechless when they told me his original name, and now I call Marmalade “Angel”, because he really is my Angel, the most perfect cat in every way, he is beautiful, kind, caring, intelligent, has a curious mind, playful, friendly & healing, he is our first boy cat, and I am overjoyed that we found each other, and that my Angel Jessica brought him to me, as he used to watch us play and trusted me.

Marmalade has had to learn to use a litter tray and is not used to drinking water from the bowl, so I got him a Cat water fountain.  He is one of the best things to happen to me, every day is full of happiness when he is part of the fabric of my life, and he is so beautiful I cannot take my eyes of him, he is truly my gorgeous boy!

I promised Jessica, on the day that she went to Heaven that I would take care of Marmalade, as before she died, she sat up, sniffed his chest & kissed him on his mouth to say goodbye.  Marmalade acted like a little man, when I was grieving, licking my hand & extending his paws, he used to cry at night for the love of his life, that he lost. He is beautiful, loving, caring and a healing cat;
his quiet presence is heavenly.

From the Media

A dog lover has won permission to be buried alongside his ‘closest companions’ – in a pet cemetery. Retired escapologist Karl Bartoni is thought to be the first person in the country to be allowed to be laid to rest with his dogs. And he has taken the unusual step of already having his gravestone installed over the spot where his dogs are buried – while he is still alive.

Karl, 62, said: ‘I wanted to be buried withCharlie and Barney because the cemetery is a really nice place, with lovely scenery and lovely views. It’s very well kept – it just shows that people really did care about their pets.

Barney, a short-haired border collie, died in 1994 and Karl’s vet recommended Rossendale Pet Crematorium.

But by the time his Yorkshire terrier Charlie died last year Karl was working on convincing crematorium bosses to change their minds (they had initially refused him permission to be buried there  ed.)

He contacted the borough solicitor, the county planning office, the waste disposal authority and the police – and found nobody had any objections.

Now the cemetery has set aside space for 40 people  to be buried – and 10 people have already booked spaces.

Rossendale Pet Crematorium has more than 2,500 animals, ranging from small birds and hamsters to horses, buried in its Crawshawbooth grounds.

Manager Russell Gray said: ‘It’s a very special and  peaceful place, which is why many people choose it for their pets. In many ways it’s much better kept and loved than a human cemetery.’

Leigh Hargreaves, bereavement officer at Rossendale council, said: ‘Although this is a somewhat unusual request it is perfectly legal as long as various conditions are followed.’

With thanks to DF reader Jackie Bean for this inspiring article which was published in
the Daily Mail on 11.03.2011.


With thanks to Hazel Fernandes for sending us the links to these websites, which helped her in her time of grief:



(2002 – 2011)


Who wrecked the flowers while still in bloom,

Then  scattered them around the room –

Until the carpet met its doom?

A  naughty cat called Domino.


Who broke the curtain-rail in two,

And clawed the curtains which were new,

Then dropped his toy mouse in the stew?

A naughty cat called Domino.


Who went in search of a mouse or rat,

But caught instead a baby bat,

Then laid it on the kitchen mat:

A naughty cat called Domino.


Who screamed and screamed while at the vets’

And frightened all the other pets,

Then licked his paws with no regrets?

A naughty cat called Domino.


Who broke his mummy’s heart in two

When he disappeared from earthly view,

And left this world for pastures new?

A precious cat called Domino.


Now that he has gone before,

His naughty antics are no more –

Who waits for me on a distant shore?

A much loved cat called Domino.

 Helen Constance

Your letters


I love your newsletter, although it’s sad your stories focus on an enduring love and the pleasure brought into the lives of both animals and humans. The story  of Jessica is so moving. It is incredible that no matter what harrowing experiences our pets have been through, shown love they return it ten-fold with their own love and trust. It is wonderful that Jessica was so loved at the end of her life.

Thank you so much for mentioning us at the back of the newsletter. (See Resources – ed.)  Many thanks and keep up the good work.
Warm wishes,

~ Janet Wheatley Executive Assistant, Dr Hadwen Trust for Humane Research

Just a few lines to say a Big Hello…. Well I managed to do the Table Top for the memory of my dear German Shepherd Shelly who left us 10 years on  28 December coming age 13 plus, also my dear little Tace who we so sadly lost on 1st April 2010.  I hope this small donation will help you keep your services going and help others like you’ve helped me.  Bless you.

Kath Greenslade

We are most grateful to Kath Greenslade for her kindness in holding a Table Top sale especially for DF, in memory of her beloved dogs, and for the resulting donation, which will indeed be very useful in keeping the service going.  Ed.

Unfinished Business

A lovely afternoon drinking at a country pub, followed by a walk in the fields, ended abruptly in tragedy.  It was the first Saturday in September and I felt restless, couldn’t settle to anything ~ I had the sense that something was going to happen, and I could not tell whether it was going to be good or bad.  We decided to go out.

We had lunch and a drink at one of our favourite pubs; we like it because it has a beautiful garden and most people prefer to eat and drink inside, so we often have the garden to ourselves.  That day, however, other people had the same idea and the garden was slowly filling up.  So we decided to go to our other favourite, which also has a garden ~ a very large one overlooking a fantastic view of fields, often with cows or a bull or two.

Having sat with our drinks, relaxing and enjoying the view, and the sight of the Red Kites circling in the sky, we decided to go for a walk.  We crossed a couple of fields, populated by young cows, mostly lying down for an afternoon rest.

Something caught my eye lying still in the grass; it was a rabbit.  I thought it was dead and went up to it to have a look.  To my horror, it was still breathing, although obviously extremely unwell.  A quick look at the swollen pus-filled sacs where its eyes used to be confirmed my worst suspicions; the poor thing had advanced myxomatosis.  It looked so patient lying there waiting for death, and I stroked its back and tried to keep the flies away from its face.  I knelt for ages, stroking it and willing it to die, a turmoil of thoughts going round in my mind; the main one being acute sadness and anger ~ it was so unfair, what harm that that gentle creature ever done to a single living being? I wished I had the knowledge and the means to put it out of its misery.  Once or twice I thought it had stopped breathing and I was relieved; but it started again.  Whether it was conscious I do not know, but  it was in no obvious hurry to make things easier either for me or for itself. I wanted to stay with it until the end. I was struck by my own selfishness.  Though I felt that for some strange reason I was meant to be witness to this everyday tragedy of nature, my feelings did not matter; what was important was that the rabbit should not suffer longer than necessary.  Animals (and humans for that matter) often wish to die alone so, very reluctantly, we granted the creature its privacy and went home……….

However, an hour or two later, we both felt we had to go back and, if necessary, do something.  We took with us the wherewithal to give it instant release.   I hoped we would find it dead, or if it were still alive that I would find the courage to do the deed quickly and cleanly.

When we reached the place, the rabbit was gone.  There was not a single trace to show that it had ever been there.  It could not have moved far and we did look round to make absolutely sure.  We saw a couple of small feathers, and we guessed a fox, or more likely a Red Kite, had done nature’s work.  At least the rabbit’s suffering would now be over; I hope it was dead before the predator arrived.



DF reader Paulette Ng is an artist as well as a poet (See DF no. 42 for her poem in tribute to Baby Baishey and ‘Pussycat Heaven’ – ed.)  She has kindly offered to paint a portrait of your pet – whether a departed friend or still with you – as the prize for a raffle, the proceeds to be donated to DF.

Please let me know if you are interested in taking part in the raffle, or whether you would just like Paulette to paint your pet’s portrait anyway.  If there are enough people interested, I will find out how to set up a raffle.  If you want to commission a portrait without entering a raffle, please let me know and I will forward your details to Paulette so she can quote you a price.

Below is her portrait of a Caracal; I think you will agree it is very striking and captures perfectly the essence of this beautiful creature.  Ed.

Watch this space…

I was helping with a street collection for Animal Aid one Saturday and got chatting to some film students who asked if I knew of any Dog Rescue organisations; they were making a video on comparative attitudes towards dogs in England and Nigeria. I gave them a Departed Friend business card, so they could visit the blog and look in the Resources section.

A couple of weeks later, they rang to ask if I would like to take part in their video; they had been interviewing dog owners and those who had lost dogs, and now wanted input from a bereavement counsellor. I willingly agreed. They came round one evening and filmed for about two hours, asking challenging, interesting questions.  I really had to think hard before I answered.  For example, “Is England a nation of animal lovers?” has no easy answer – There are devoted people who bond with them as family members; and those who neglect them by indifference or ignorance; and violent, inhuman people who take pleasure in deliberately causing them pain. The interview allowed me plenty of scope to give my thoughts on our relationship with animals in general, and with dogs in particular.

The project was set up by Youth With A Mission, and the video will be available on YouTube some time in December. It will be 12 minutes long. My slot will be condensed to about 1 minute.  They have promised to tell me when it is ready and I will let everyone know when I have the details.


I died today

I died today. You got tired of me and took me to the shelter. They were overcrowded and I drew an unlucky number. I am in a black plastic bag in a landfill now. Some other puppy will get the barely used leash you left. My collar was dirty and too small, but the lady took it off before she sent me to the Rainbow Bridge.  Would I still be at home if I hadn’t chewed your shoe?  I didn’t know what it was, but it was leather, and it was on the floor. I was just playing. You forgot to get puppy toys. Would I still be at home if I had been housebroken? Rubbing my nose in what I did only made me ashamed that I had to go at all. There are books and obedience teachers that would have taught you how to teach me to go to the door. Would I still be at home if I hadn’t brought fleas into the house? Without anti-flea medicine, I couldn’t get them off of me after you left me in the yard for days. Would I still be at home if I hadn’t barked? I was only saying, “I’m scared, I’m lonely, I’m here, I’m here! I want to be your best friend.” Would I still be at home if I had made you happy? Hitting me didn’t make me learn how. Would I still be at home if you had taken the time to care for me and to teach manners to me? You didn’t pay attention to me after the first week or so, but I spent all my time waiting for you to love me. I died today.

 Love, Your Puppy

 Thanks to DF reader Julie Hasler who found this on Poorly Paws Rescue on Facebook ~ it says it all. ed.

Animals and War

 The purple poppy* has been designed to commemorate animals who have lost their lives as a result of human conflict. While people have always remembered the human victims of  war, the impact that conflicts have had on animals has been essentially  overlooked.

Animals have been used for detection, scouting and rescue, as messengers, as beasts of burden and on the  frontline. And vast numbers of animals – in farms and zoos, for instance – continue to be bystander victims when conflicts start. But this is not all.  In secret UK Ministry of Defence research laboratories, more than 20,000 animals each year are destroyed with chemical, biologial and other weapons.

As Remembrance Day draws near, we can start to think about wearing a purple poppy – alongside the traditional red one or the white peace poppy.  We will finally be acknowledging that millions of animals have been drawn into conflicts not of their own making and have lost their lives as a result.

The Purple Poppy campaign is run by Animal Aid to raise awareness about the use of animals in warfare and to raise funds for their campaigns against animal cruelty.  I will be wearing a purple poppy this year,  as well as helping to sell them in my town centre.  If you want to buy a poppy or organise a collection, get in touch with Animal Aid.  They will help you make the arrangements for a collection.  The poppy box is ideal for displaying in your local vet’s surgery, library, post office or anywhere that has a counter on which to put the box. You could also sell the poppies at a collection in your local supermarket.

*Information from Animal Aid

The Old Chapel, Bradford Street, Tonbridge, Kent, TN9 1AW

tel +44 (0)1732 364546, fax +44 (0)1732 366533,

email Website:

See also DF no. 26  – ed.


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