Departed Friend Newsletter No. 45 December 2011


 Seasonal Greetings to all our readers


Unusual Memorials

 Many of us who have lost the animals we love choose to have a permanent memorial somewhere in the house or garden. This can help us to manage our grief, and also serve as a lasting testimony to the enduring love we hold for our departed friends.

It could be a memory book or box, or a shrine in a special corner of a room, or on a mantelpiece – with photographs, sympathy cards, ornaments, poems, perhaps his or her collar or other memento, and possibly an urn containing the precious ashes. It may be lit with candles, tealights or special lighting.

It could be a quiet area in the garden, with a plaque or headstone marking the burial place, with a dedicated inscription – perhaps there is special planting, with decoration, possibly including outdoor lighting for the dark nights ~ candles, tealights, LED lights.

As well as these more traditional ways of remembering our lost loved ones, there is an increasing number of more unusual memorials: some are out there on the market, and some are specially designed and commissioned by the owners themselves. I have a small heart-shaped locket; it contains some of Eric’s fur.  I also have a couple of    t-shirts with a photograph of Spirit which I had enlarged and printed on the front. (For tributes to Spirit and Eric, see DFs 1 and 30).

Here are some more ideas:

 Handmade jewellery from pawprint

Karan is a lady who makes personalised silver jewellery from your loved one’s pawprint (or finger, hand or footprint if human!).  Pendants, cufflinks, keyrings, charms for bracelets or mobile phones can be made to order.

Charms and cufflinks come in the following shapes: Traditional heart; modern heart (slanted); daisy; square; rectangle; circle; teardrop; oval; pear.

Karan can send you a print kit with full instructions, to send back in the envelope provided.


Tel:  07546 955 511

Commemorative diamonds

These are a beautiful but expensive option. They can be grown from fur, nail clippings or cremated ashesand some people derive much comfort from wearing such a jewel. The stone can be set in some of the owner’s existing jewellery or designs from  the   provider. If preferred, bespoke designs can be created in consultation with the provider.  Hair or nail clippings from the human family can be added, to symbolise the mutual attachment and continuing bond.


Tel:  08455 198 140

(UK details given here, but the website allows you to choose a country; there is also a “worldwide” option)


Tel:  0845 5000 140 and 01335 344 853


A tattoo of the departed pet is a comparatively unusual, and enduring, memorial.

“Kathy Eustace was devastated when her Siamese cat, Louie, died of cancer and was determined to cherish his memory for ever – so she had his face tattooed on her leg. ‘Louie was such a special cat’, the 39-year-old said. ‘When he died I was gutted, I couldn’t stop crying.

 ‘It might sound silly but we walked together in  life and  now  we can  in death too.  The tattoo artist  made  such  a beautiful job of it. I feel happy every time I look at it.’ Tattooist Nick Reid, who did the portrait of three-year-old Louie, said: ‘Kathy was a lovely person.  It was obvious that she really loved her cat and wanted the tattoo.’”

Metro, 14.07.08: “Louie’s memory lives on in Cattoo”  – article by Jo Steele

 Creative floral tributes

DF reader Kath Greenslade had this beautiful flower arrangement made as a memorial to her beloved Yorkie, Tace, on what wouldhave been her 10th birthday.  It is so unusual and creative, and a wonderful way to commemorate such a poignant anniversary.


If you can think of any other unusual memorials, we would be interested to hear from you.


Pet Portraits ….To raise money for DF

Artist and poet Paulette Ng, whose kind offer of a raffle in aid of DF was featured in the last newsletter, has also offered to donate the proceeds to Departed Friend from paintings commissioned by those who do not wish to enter a raffle. So, if you would like a beautiful portrait of your companion (departed or still with you) please let me know and I will forward your details to Paulette.

A pet portrait could also make a lovely birthday or seasonal gift for someone else ~ at the same time as helping Departed Friend.


A Request for Info

DF reader Julie Hasler is doing a distance learning course on Advanced Feline Psychology with the Animal Care College (the same College as I did my Companion Animal Bereavement course). One of the units for the course is a Special Study on a topic of the student’s own choosing. Julie has decided that hers will be on Feline Bereavement (i.e. cats grieving for lost loved ones ~ these can be humans or other animals the cats were attached to, who have died or for whatever reason are no longer in the cats’ life).

If you know personally of any examples, or of any studies done on the subject, Julie would be very grateful to hear from you as soon as possible.  Please send me the information and I will pass it on to her.

(Those of you who are online have already received this appeal and can send the info to Julie’s email address – or to me and I will pass it on.  Thanks to all who have already responded). 

 Tribute to JACK

Jack Flash was a special friend.  He was my adopted pony; I adopted him for 13 and a half years.  I was only 14 years old when I first adopted him.  He was chestnut and bits of white on him.

He used to walk around when I first adopted him when I groomed him.  I loved Jack and got very attached to him.  He lived in a rescue centre.  His mother stood on his legs when he was a foal.  He couldn’t be ridden.  I enjoyed seeing him and grooming him.

I looked forward to seeing him for many years, took lots of photos.  Jack used to go a darker colour in the Winter and lighter in the Summer.

I was shocked when he was taken off the adoption. It was difficult to see him.  I then used to go on at them – the  people used to try and stop me. He had arthritis; it got worse because of the cold weather.

I found it stressful not knowing how he was. I found out a month after he was put down. I feel upset and angry. I wish I had seen him more; guilty I wasn’t there nearer the end. Miss him ~ love Jack always. Sorry he was in so much pain. It is horrible when this happens.

I am thinking about adopting another horse or pony or horse and pony. But I will never forget Jack.

Best wishes from Zoë

Dedication to KITTY

Would you please include a dedication to our dear little cat Kitty who we had to have pts last Wednesday.

We adopted Kitty (12 at the time) along with another cat from the same home (15 at the time) from a local sanctuary 2 years ago. They had both been dumped there by their previous owners.

A few months ago Kitty developed the human equivalent of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). She was treated at our local vet’s and seemed to get better, but then went downhill, then her condition improved, but it alternated all the time. She was on various medications but lost weight and interest in food.

We made a decision that her quality of life meant she couldn’t continue like this and with a heavy heart had her pts.

Kitty had such a lovely nature, she was happiest sitting on Geoffrey’s lap and we loved her dearly.

Although it was terribly upsetting to lose her, we were glad we were there for her at the end and she will always have a special place in our hearts. Goodbye sweet princess, until we meet again.

Sharon Hopkins

Purple Poppy Stall

On 29 October 2011, in the run-up to Remembrance Sunday, a Purple Poppy stall was held in Luton Town Centre, for Animal Aid’s fundraising and awareness campaign to commemorate animals who suffer and die in war (see also DF44). This was organised by DF reader Caroline Turner with Peter and me helping out. Shoppers and passers-by showed great interest and sympathy with the plight of animals in war. Many people (of all ages and walks of life) bought poppies or gave a contribution.  Donations on the day totalled £75.  A further £81 was raised when Caroline took a collecting tin and a tray of poppies to her vet surgery!


The following poem was written at the time of World War I. There is very little known about the author: Was he a serving soldier?  Was he a civilian poet?  He is shrouded in mystery, but his moving and eloquent poem lives on:

 A Soldier’s Kiss

by Henry Chappell

Only a dying horse! pull off the gear,

And slip the needless bit from frothing jaws,

Drag it aside there, leaving the road way clear,

The battery thunders on with scarce a pause.

Prone by the shell-swept highway there it lies

With quivering limbs, as fast the life-tide fails,

Dark films are closing o’er the faithful eyes

That mutely plead for aid where none avails.

Onward the battery rolls, but one there speeds

Needlessly of comrades voice or bursting shell,

Back to the wounded friend who lonely bleeds

Beside the stony highway where he fell.

Only a dying horse! he swiftly kneels,

Lifts the limp head and hears the shivering sigh

Kisses his friend, while down his cheek there steals

Sweet pity’s tear, “Goodbye old man, Goodbye”.

No honours wait him, medal, badge or star,

Though scarce could war a kindlier deed unfold;

He bears within his breast, more precious far

Beyond the gift of kings, a heart of gold.


It is not known whether the poem was inspired by this picture “Goodbye Old Man” by Fortunio Matania, (see also DF26) or vice-versa, or whether the one was meant to complement the other.


Your letters ……

 Thank you so much for helping Caroline with the street collection in Luton this year.  The total for the day was £75. The work that all Animal Aid’s co-ordinators and helpers undertake at street collections is so important. Not only are you fundraisers and campaigners but you are a direct link with the public. Best wishes and thank you for all your support.

 Karin Watts – Senior Fundraising Officer: Animal Aid

Thank you for including Domino’s poem and photograph in “Departed Friend” (See DF44, ed.) It’s beautiful – just how he was when he was on earth. I could feel his presence when I looked at it. Carling seems to be a bit more settled now. Perhaps he can sense Domino around him too? Jasmine is her usual self, in a world of her own, but she seems to have better health of late and seldom coughs now.

As always, “Departed Friend” is lovely, with its stories of beloved pets, and very comforting to read. Unfortunately, the story about the unwanted puppy “I Died Today” is all too common. I don’t know why such people ever have pets in the first place. Perhaps they are a novelty that wears off after a time?

I hope all your pets are well.

Love from Helen

 On Friday afternoon I had a driving lesson; didn’t feel much like it as Tace was on my mind. But as the lesson went on after an hour or so, rain off and on, the most beautiful rainbow stretched right across the road I was driving. I said to my instructor: “Look at that”. He said: “Yes, I think it’s the most beautiful rainbow I’ve seen.”  Also it was totally unbroken so I told him about our Tace and he was as amazed as me, even though he has no pets.  I still can’t believe it on a November day it’s unusual; it’s like she was saying “Thank You” to us and “Don’t be upset; I’m here close to you.”

Tomorrow I’m going to our local pet cemetery.  I’m deciding to have both Shelly and Tace put to final rest. It’s going to be hard but I can’t keep them here in the house forever. We haven’t decided yet to have the ashes buried or scattered; I’ll let you know. I don’t think I’ll have it done until the New Year as I want them here one last Christmas with us. I’ve had Shelly’s ashes 10 years so it’s hard, but I know I need to do this one last thing for my babies.

Kath Greenslade

My dear Shelly ~ Left us 28.12.2001

Age 13 years plus


Horse Cemetery

Queen Anne’s Folly ~ Shuttleworth Estate

While enjoying a country walk on the Shuttleworth Estate, near Old Warden, Bedfordshire, we came across this small building. It  is  called  Queen  Anne’sFolly and it is a historic summerhouse.  I discovered  afterwards that it can be rented as a holiday home via the Landmark Trust.

In the grounds surrounding the Folly, I came across thirteen gravestones which I suspected were those of animals, rather like the Dog Cemetery I had discovered in  the  grounds  of anotherstately home, Wrest Park in Silsoe, also in Bedfordshire (see DF8).


Somehow, I did not think that these were dogs’ gravestones, especially when I saw the inscription for one of them, named Black Boy. The lifespan  was,  I felt, too long to be that of a dog.


Black Boy

                       Acquisit April 24th 1876

                     Ob. December 3rd 1896

I pictured in my mind’s eye the events of long ago: the acquisition of the handsome young colt on a fine Spring day – and twenty years later, the sad event of his death.  I wondered how he had died (of old age?) and I wondered what his life had been like.

From the inscriptions that were still legible, I managed to read the names of some of his stablemates: Suggie, Matador, Budge. They had all obviously been much loved, and it is heartwarming to know that their memorials still survive.

Well-known poet Benjamin Zephaniah (53) is a passionate defender of both human and animal rights.

He left school at 13, unable to read or write, and has Dyslexia. He is a prolific author of poems, novels, songs, children’s books and plays.

I have seen him in person on two occasions: once at a human rights event, and once when he came to read some of his poetry in Luton ~ including the poem reproduced below.

He is an honorary patron of the Vegan Society (having become a vegan when he read poems about shimmering fish floating in an underwater paradise, and birds flying free in the clear blue sky).


Talking Turkeys !

a poem by Benjamin Zephaniah

Be nice to yu turkeys dis christmas
Cos ‘ turkeys just wanna hav fun
Turkeys are cool, turkeys are wicked
An every turkey has a Mum.
Be nice to yu turkeys dis christmas,
Don’t eat it, keep it alive,
It could be yu mate, an not on your plate
Say, Yo! Turkey I’m on your side.

I got lots of friends who are turkeys
An all of dem fear christmas time,
Dey wanna enjoy it, dey say humans destroyed it
An humans are out of dere mind,
Yeah, I got lots of friends who are turkeys
Dey all hav a right to a life,
Not to be caged up an genetically made up
By any farmer an his wife.

Turkeys just wanna play reggae
Turkeys just wanna hip-hop
Can yu imagine a nice young turkey saying,
‘I cannot wait for de chop’,
Turkeys like getting presents, dey wanna watch christmas TV,
Turkeys hav brains an turkeys feel pain
In many ways like yu an me.

I once knew a turkey called…….. Turkey
He said “Benji explain to me please,
Who put de turkey in christmas
An what happens to christmas trees?”,
I said “I am not too sure turkey
But it’s nothing to do wid Christ Mass
Humans get greedy an waste more dan need be
An business men mek loadsa cash’.

Be nice to yu turkey dis christmas
Invite dem indoors fe sum greens
Let dem eat cake an let dem partake
In a plate of organic grown beans,
Be nice to yu turkey dis christmas
An spare dem de cut of de knife,
Join Turkeys United an dey’ll be delighted
An yu will mek new friends ‘FOR LIFE’.

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