Departed Friend Newsletter No. 47 June 2012

This edition of the newsletter is dedicated to the memory of TINA HUGHES ~ an inspirational lady who shared her life with her husband and numerous companion animals and was driven by deep love and compassion to campaign for justice for those unfortunate animals who fall victim to human cruelty.


I wrote in the last newsletter (DF46) of the loss of Poppsy, one of three litter sisters who had shared my home since they were kittens. Poppsy had just succumbed to cancer, and Krishna had had a similar diagnosis (a month to the day after Poppsy’s diagnosis) but was holding on – thin and hyperthyroid but still enjoying a reasonable quality of life.

I had a feeling that, unlike with Poppsy who slowly declined, Krishna’s health would take a ‘nose-dive’ and that is what happened, just after I had finished printing the last newsletter.

One evening she took a while to recover from a vet check-up appointment, lying around looking exhausted when she got home; however, she picked up somewhat over the next few days. Then on Sunday 18 March, she cried out and then lay in unnatural positions, trying to get comfortable and not knowing what to do with herself. It was obvious she was suffering so we had to take her to the emergency vet. After examining her and doing some quick tests, he said he thought the cancer had spread to her heart and that she might be in acute heart failure, so there was only one thing to do. As with Poppsy, it was very quick and she was gone before the injection had finished going in……

She was always the odd one out and I believe she was the runt of the litter.  She was active and healthy but quiet and aloof and it seemed she had not learned how to purr; she did eventually, becoming quite adept, especially when she was playing “bouncy castle” ~ sitting on Peter’s stomach and kneading with all four paws.  (He has countless t-shirts with little holes in, not to mention the rash of marks, like measles, that kept appearing on his stomach and thighs!)

Though she became friendly, she always hated being picked up and would become extremely vocal in protest if anybody tried. I wondered whether her father had been feral; her mother was a stray from Harlesden, taken in by my son Richard.

My other son David nicknamed her “Gold Spot Girl” as she had a smudge of ginger on her tabby head, as if someone had accidentally spilt a drop of bleach on her.  She was petite and enigmatic, keeping her thoughts private; this was enhanced by her large, slanted eyes which looked as if they belonged to a being from another planet.  They reminded me of the illustration on the front cover of “Communion” – Whitley Streiber’s book about aliens.

For a while she lived with our friend Graeme but came back for holidays when he went away.  She lived in a 2nd floor flat and was rather nervous of going downstairs to go out.  She loved to climb and sit on high places, and one day she decided to investigate the open window.  Whether she was trying to get out, or whether she accidentally fell, Graeme did not know. Fortunately a bush broke her fall and she was unhurt!

Though she and Graeme had got on very well together, it was mutually decided that she should come home for good, as he went away a lot.  She would only have to go out of the back door to get into our garden. She settled back in immediately, becoming once again part of the family.  She always preferred Peter, but I was a more than adequate second-best when he was not around and I felt privileged when she started (comparatively late in life) lying on my stomach when I was reading in bed, gently kneading and purring until “Daddy” appeared ~ at which point she would promptly get off to go to him and I would be abandoned!

She loved margarine.  Every time one of us went to the fridge, she would loudly demand that we give her some. Even though we use soya margarine, with no trace of dairy, she loved it.  Sometimes we put dollops on the side for her to eat; sometimes she would take it from the end of a finger, licking with enthusiasm but always leaving a little bit behind.

Another of her endearing habits was what I called “doing her nails” when she would carefully bite each claw, flicking off the old shell, like a snakeskin.

We have photographs to remember her by and David took videos of her on his phone which he forwarded  to me, so I can still see her and listen to her.

She leaves one sister, tortoiseshell Mumia, (her other tortoiseshell sister, Prissy, having been the first of the sisters to find a new home and, sadly, also the first to pass away, a few years ago).

She also leaves a gap and a sadness that endures, underpinning our busy lives. Apart from the poignancy of losing two so close together, there is something else.  I was convinced I had taken some of her fur some weeks previously, and placed it in a special pendant ready to wear when the time came.

When I opened it, I was horrified to find there was nothing there. I searched to see where I might have stored the fur and found nothing. I then got some tweezers and, like a forensic scientist, carefully plucked tabby hairs from the blanket in the cat-basket in which she had made her last journey. There was no knowing whether these hairs came from her or from one of the others, but by the law of averages, some of them must be hers. I put them in a small plastic wallet, which I then inserted into the pendant.

Two strange things happened while I was digging her grave. The first was that I saw her walking towards me across the lawn, as if she was coming over to see what I was doing. The second was that we saw (in the flesh) a sweet little half-grown black   and  white  cat  who popped into the garden, also to see what I was doing. She had a collar on, and a shaved flank indicating that she had recently been spayed.  We had not seen her before and have not seen her since. I felt that her visit was symbolic and meant to be: she was a young healthy cat starting out in life, just as someone old and very ill had left it.

 ~  Debby



 I reviewed a book called “Bill at Rainbow Bridge” in DF46. Unfortunately the telephone number for Caroline Davis, the UK distributor of this book, was wrong.

The correct number is 01406 331421 if you want to order a paperback copy.  Please accept my apologies for any inconvenience caused.

Thanks to the DF reader who pointed this out.


by Maureen Shbero 

 On the 17th May I lost my beautiful dog Sandy. In my heart I had known for a few weeks that our time together was getting shorter. We had noticed that she had lost weight too. I guess there are lots of people   like me who just do not want to believe what is happening.

Over the past few weeks I would make sure I said goodnight to her looking into her big brown eyes and telling her how much I loved her. I reminded her of our first meeting. She came to me from Greece and was one of the first to come on the Passports for Pets system. Even with that she had to go to a special quarantine kennel in Chingford to wait for DEFRA to check out her papers which fortunately did not take long. I was sitting with her in her ‘room’ and she put her head on my shoulder and I told her that she was home and that never again would she be hungry and alone. It was of that first meeting that I used to remind her of and that I did keep my promise.

Everyone loved my Sandy. She was quiet and we always said we should have nicknamed her Greta Garbo because she always ‘wanted to be alone’ ! She always seemed so grateful to be loved and cared for. We do not know her life before she was found in a suburb of Athens and taken to the GAR shelter but they reckon she was about 3+. She was 18 months in the shelter and so by the time she came to me she was about 6.  We have a nice park near where we live in South London and she loved to go to the park and run and run and tumble over on the grass. We already had a border collie, Shep, and they both loved the park. Although Shep and Sandy were never ‘lovey dovey’ when he passed away in 2003 she pined for him and my vet had to prescribe some medication.

This past 11 days has been very hard. I miss Sandy so very much and I wonder if my life will ever be the same. I have some wondeful memories and that is what is important. Fortunately she did not suffer too long and I stayed with her until the last moment. I know that the last she saw was me as I stroked her head. I told her I would never leave her!

We do have another little rescue dog (Angel) who has helped us through this very difficult time and I do not doubt that she feels the loss of Sandy too.

It is true that ‘it is better to have loved and lost than never loved at all’.

I have attached a photo of my little rescue dog Angel. Can I just tell you her story as quick as possible.

I found her while in Spain.  My husband was going loopy saying ‘not another dog’ as we already had 2 rescues, Sandy and Meg. So after I had her spayed I took her to a shelter. When I left her I was in tears all the way back. I had fallen in love with her ! That was the Friday. On the Sunday a neighbour came to the door with Angel in his arms ! I thought he was going to say they had gone to get her because his wife had thought about it.

No, what had happened was she had been put in the owner’s house where it was quiet because she had only been spayed the day before. Within an hour she had escaped. She had traversed a track to the main road. How she knew to turn left and not right heaven knows. She found her way through the village and heaven knows how she did that because we got lost the first time ! She had walked about 11+ miles. How she survived I do not know because although not a motorway it is a fast road over the hills. She had no scent to follow. I believe that my father had been her sat nav ! I feel that he brought her back to me because it is from him I get my love of animals !

Best wishes,  Maureen with Angel XX


Can anyone help make life a bit more comfortable for a dog with a disability?

This is going to sound like a very odd request, but I shall try to make it clear and brief.

I have a dog who had an accident 2 years ago leaving her paralysed in her 2 back legs. She is on wheels and has a good life.

We have learned to adapt most things, but one thing I would like a better solution to is her scratching. Dogs scratch with their back legs and as she can’t use hers we need to do it for her. I have had ideas about creating some sort of scratching mat.

I am hoping to find a group of enthusiastic students that could help me in my quest and help me construct something.

There are a LOT of gaps in the market for things for disabled pets and there are more out there then anyone would think.

I do hope you can help me with this and I would very much like to hear from you.

Kind Regards,  Jessica Clements



If anyone has any ideas on how to help, please let me know either by phone or by writing/emailing me at the DF address; I will then pass on your details to Jessica. Many thanks ~ Debby



Annie with her wheels                                                                 

A bit more about Annie:

She is quite a large dog so her care is not easy, but she is happy enough. I have 3 other dogs and she cannot do everything they do, but she copes so well with this. And she does get a lot of special attention!

She was 6½ when she had her accident, it was June  2 years ago so she is coming up 9 now.

She had been diagnosed with osteo-arthritis and was having acu-pressure every 3 weeks. This was working well to keep her pain under control and then we noticed some muscle wastage in her back legs so put her on medication for a while so she could build the muscle back up. The day I did this the dogs went out for a walk as normal and they were chasing rabbits in long grass and she ran into another one of my dogs and she screamed.

We got her back to the house, into a car and to the vet. We were there a long time and it was ages before they gave her anything. We then went through hell and back as they told us it was hopeless, then they could do something, then it was hopeless and finally we had options with her. We had to leave her there and we went home. I returned the following morning to be told I should just put her down.  I insisted she be taken to the animal hospital and there I was told she had almost severed her spinal cord and if they operated she had less than 5% chance of walking again. I could not bear to lose her so I had them operate anyway and I was very lucky because my Mum loaned me the money.

It took her ages to recover from the surgery, not least because they left gauze inside her so her wounds would not heal. She went to a physio vet and had hydrotherapy, acupuncture, physio, the works for weeks and weeks. It did no good, but we bought her wheels from America. It took her a while to like them, but now she flies around on them!!

With regards Annie’s scratch mat, I just need to know what material would be best really. I want something I can put in front of her that she can rub her head and face on. She rubs on the sofa and this is not abrasive enough and I brush her face and mouth and ears regularly which she loves. We try to make her as independent as possible.  I have also tried to construct a large cushion so she can rest when she is  on  her  wheels  as currently she stamps her  feet  and we take her off. She is reluctant to rest on anything I build!  I wish there was more help and options for people in my position; it would certainly make it easier for people to make the decision I have.

~ Annie with Sybil

Thank you to everyone who sent such lovely messages and cards on the losses of Poppsy and Krishna.

It is always sad to lose a much-loved friend, and to lose more than one in quick succession is hard.   Debby


Your letters

Thanks for the latest DF Debby and the inclusion of my farewell message to Sox.  The photo came out well and the looking at it again brought back memories of when he was a young cat. Boy was he a mouser.  Your tribute to Poppsy made me smile when you wrote about how she stood in front of the computer monitor and trampled over the keyboard and typed ppppttfsh??? and other such cat speak that we humans can’t understand. Sox was fluent in tttiehglk??? too though I too never understood what he typed.  I was never good at languages.

Jeff Kleinman

(Jeff has now acquired Lottie and Millie, two young female cats from HOMELESS CAT RESCUE, a non-profit organisation based in Luton).

They’ve taken to the house and me better than I could have hoped, especially Millie.  She’s been rubbing herself against me and purring and sitting on my lap.  So far she’s had 3 Whiskas pouches, a quarter of a tin of Tesco’s cat food and biscuits.  She’s a little character.  Lottie on the other hand is a cooler character.  At the time of writing they’re both lying next to each other on top of my kitchen units.  I’d forgotten how agile young cats are.  They’re great. I love them both.



 “Go on you ask him.”  “Nah, I’m too shy you ask him.” “Ok I’ll do it… ehmmm, how long until we can go outside please meow meow purr purr?”


Dear Debby

Hello again, another year has passed and I still miss Misty very much although the pain eases, the missing never goes away and some days are worse than others.  You can perhaps note that for your newsletter.

I am going on a family holiday to Miami … and when I come back I am going to consider getting another dog…. I think a dog would be a joyful distraction …

Best wishes from Mary Ryding

It is with great sadness that I have to tell you that my sweet little Gretchen has just passed away, she had been ill for a while, but mercifully the end was peaceful.

I vowed not to take in anymore strays after I lost my precious Joey, but Gretchen turned up, obviously unwanted and unloved, and in she came. The last few weeks she was so frail, I was dreading having to make that terrible final trip to the vet, but mercifully it didn’t come to that.



Dear Debby

Thank you so much for the lovely mention of our beloved Benji, Pepper, and of course our Lucky      (in DF no. 46).  It really was so kind of you. It did help us so much.  Bless you.

Love, Valerie, Michael & Lucky Lockwood



First flight ~ last flight

As with many cat-lovers, there is one thing about cats that I don’t like: their tendency to catch and play with prey. I know it is their instinct, diluted by domesticity, as household cats no longer have to rely on hunting skills to survive.

A few weeks ago, Sammie brought in a little bird who was screaming in terror. I managed to prize it from her mouth and it became silent, gasping for air.  It did not seem to be greatly harmed physically but I did not hold out much hope for its survival.

Nevertheless, I wrapped it carefully in a towel and placed it in a quiet place, away from the cats.  When I checked an hour or two later, it had died.

On examination, it appeared to have been a baby sparrow who still had some baby down amongst the adult feathers. We thought it had might have embarked upon its first flight, only to stumble and fall into mortal danger.

It now lies buried in our garden.                Debby


Nurses Movement for Responsible Medicine  (NMRM)

Cynthia O’Neill SRN SCM QN HV is founder member of this organisation, dedicated to total and immediate abolition of vivisection.  As they rightly say:

Due to fundamental differences between species, animals react very differently from humans to medicines – with catastrophic consequences to our health.  Increasing numbers of doctors and scientists agree it is time to abolish all animal experiments and engage in research methods of direct relevance to people.

 Their website contains a wealth of useful information, including a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) section that explodes several myths about vivisection, plus documented evidence on the dangers to human health and life itself as well as the cruelty of the atrocities inflicted on non-human animals.


If you would like to help NMRM and other animal-related causes, you can do so in one of two ways:

1) collect your used postage stamps and send them to Cynthia; she will refund your postage;

2)  buy one of these beautiful cards from Cynthia; there is no copyright and the design is 90 years old. You can buy one for £1.00 with envelope, p&p free.  Or you can make her an offer for the job lot of 50.

Contact Cynthia:  01444 239 044

35 Stonefield Way Burgess Hill W.Sussex RH15 8DW





 (To one of the “Many Mansions”)



It was a very warm spring morning when you first came past.  You looked happy ~ maybe you had just eaten.  A few days later you came back but this time you looked tired. We gave you a good meal, which got me wondering: Did you have a home? If not, who else feeds you and where do you go?

You came nearly every day after that, but when Autumn came we tried to keep you in but you were having none of that; you would only come in if the door was kept open. So we bought you a kennel; you loved it ~ a place to call yours. You would snuggle into your blankets which in the winter months we changed every day.  Sometimes (not often) you would go for nearly a week then just turn up, look and say “OK what’s all the fuss about?” How big was your territory? There must be other people.

You soon came to your name which was Louie.   I would give you a worm tablet every so often but your fur was always lovely.  Little did I know somebody else gave you Frontline and also you were a lot older than what we thought.

Six years had passed. I knew you were fed up and Winter was on its way once more but you had lost weight and looked tired but you battled on doing your rounds.  I was always watching for you and I hoped and prayed when the day finally came you would choose us.

A few weeks later, it became very cold with temperatures well below freezing; it was very cold, dark. Teatime, we opened the door and there you were ~ your body shaking with cold.  You let us pick you up. I heard you sneeze and I said to myself I would never let you go again.  You ate a little, drank a little.  All your life you never saw a vet until now and you really needed one. He was very kind. It was your liver though.  I said your name and you looked at me I stroked you and you fell into a peaceful sleep.     It was very sad.

What a trail you left behind, Louie! 2 more families looked after you and you had another name; it was Moses. You knew how to cross roads and 14 years ago your so-called family abandoned you when you were very young and you never ever left ~ 14 years ~ You were wonderful.

I think somewhere out there are other people who miss you and wonder where you are but that night you came to us when you needed help. Thankyou, and in your own special way you loved us because we loved you, Louie.  I have your Ashes and when the time is right they will be placed near your kennel. There is a saying:

“Owned by no-one but belonged to everyone”   ~   God Bless darling Louie.    Celia Xx



 There is sorrow enough in the natural way

From men and women to fill our day;

And when we are certain of sorrow in store,

Why do we always arrange for more?

Brothers and Sisters, I bid you beware

Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.


Buy a pup and your money will buy

Love unflinching that cannot lie –

Perfect passion and worship fed

By a kick in the ribs or a pat on the head.

Nevertheless it is hardly fair

To risk your heart for a dog to tear.


When the fourteen years which Nature permits

Are closing in asthma, or tumour, or fits,

And the vet’s unspoken prescription runs

To lethal chambers or loaded guns,

Then you will find – it’s your own affair –

But … you’ve given your heart to a dog to tear.

When the body that lived at your single will,

With its whimper of welcome, is stilled (how still!)

When the spirit that answered your every mood

Is gone – wherever it goes – for good,

You will discover how much you care,

And will give your heart to a dog to tear.

We’ve sorrow enough in the natural way,

When it comes to burying Christian clay.

Our loves are not given, but only lent,

At compound interest of cent per cent.

Though it is not always the case, I believe,

That the longer we’ve kept ‘em, the more do we grieve:

For, when debts are payable, right or wrong,

A short-time loan is as bad as a long –

So why in Heaven (before we are there)

Should we give our hearts to a dog to tear?

                                                           Rudyard Kipling


This remarkable poem which expresses so graphically and poignantly the deep devotion that dogs can evoke in their humans has been, over the years, a great source of comfort to those who suffer the pain of canine loss.  I am convinced that the author, Rudyard Kipling, knew only too well this kind of sorrow. 

 If anyone has any information about this, I would be very interested to have it, as I have tried without success to find out what inspired him to write the poem.       Debby




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