Departed Friend Newsletter No. 48 – September 2012

DAISY

She was found in a cat basket, in the middle of nowhere, on a common in Birmingham.  She was young but mature, in good condition and wearing a collar. When she was taken by her kind rescuer to be spayed, the vet said she had already been done……….

Her kind rescuer had dogs so she could not keep Daisy and she asked me if I knew of a good home.  The inevitable happened and Daisy came to us towards the end of 1999, just before the Millennium.

She was scared at first, hiding in the wardrobe but soon became confident with us, though still very wary of strangers.  Then one day, when the Avon lady came round, Daisy ventured out and made friends with her – interacting for the first time with someone outside the family.  The woman said she was pregnant (it did not show) and that cats can sense this…..

Daisy’s confidence grew quickly after this, and she used to amuse us by getting into funny positions, the best one being to lie on her back, sticking her arms out, straight above her head!  She loved having her tummy tickled and was very affectionate, though terrified of the vacuum cleaner, plastic bags – and belts.  She would cringe when Peter threaded a belt through his trousers.  We wished she could tell us what had happened in the past, and we promised her  that nothing like that would ever happen again.

She loved her food, at one stage putting on too much weight and having to go on a diet. She hated going to the vets in a cat basket – perhaps thinking that history was about to repeat itself and she would be abandoned again.

She had very long whiskers and beautiful friendly eyes and was very vocal, being fluent in many feline expressions, especially the famous ‘Silent Miaouw’ which she employed to great effect when she wanted attention.  She loved sitting on me in the evening and lying on me, or on the pillow, at night. Friends and visitors loved her, several of them saying that, of all our cats, she was their favourite.

I called her a Healer: she always knew when something was wrong and I will never forget her affectionate ways as she tried to cheer me up.  In 2009, the vet practice I was then with ran a competition for people to write about their pets.  The following entry, a true story, was published in their newsletter and won me a bottle of champagne!

Daisy’s healing help

Animal lovers often say “He seems to know when I’m upset; he always comes to me….” or “She always jumps up and licks my face.” 

 My cat Daisy is like that. She is a large, motherly girl who reminds me of Hattie Jacques’ portrayal of ‘Matron’ in the Carry-On series! If Daisy were human, I can imagine her benign presence, presiding calmly over a hospital ward, doing her best to ensure that her patients receive the best possible care.

 She has an unerring sense of when something is wrong and she likes to snuggle up close or climb on top of me –

 I remember the time when I lay on the sofa, inconsolable after the death of Spirit, a beloved pony at the stables where I used to ride; Daisy was there, lying on me at full stretch, using her whole body and her closeness to try and bring comfort.

 Recently I have been suffering from severe back pain. One night in particular, the pain was so bad I got very little sleep.  I could not get comfortable no matter how I lay. Daisy climbed on me, as usual, but she was heavy and the pain was so bad I had gently to push her off. She remained by my side.

 In the early hours of the morning, I got hot and folded the covers back so I could cool down. Daisy very slowly and deliberately came close and, choosing her position carefully, lay herself gently down across my stomach, so that her hindquarters were still on the bed. In this position she was not too heavy. 

 It has been scientifically established that interaction between humans and their companion animals is beneficial to health – reducing stress and blood pressure, and inducing relaxation.  I would have expected, with Daisy lying on me like this, to feel the benefit in the form of gradual relaxation and perhaps relief of some of the tension.  But I have no explanation for what actually happened:

 Immediately, the pain was virtually gone and I was at last able to get some sleep.

 I have no explanation for this and, no, it was not a ‘miracle cure’. The pain returned during the day and it has been a long, slow recovery. But Daisy’s intervention did, for a while, bring instant and complete relief.

 She began to lose weight and developed a thyroid problem; it took several attempts with numerous tests and dosage adjustments, plus a change of tablets, to control it. She slowed down and began to look old.  We did not know her age, but it was becoming clear that she was approaching the ‘home stretch’.  Having lost Poppsy and Krishna in January and March, I was dreading losing a third, but I had a dark and uneasy feeling that she would not last the year.

She had a much-needed dental with a couple of extractions, and at first seemed to pick up well.  Then she went off her food.  Several trips to the vet failed to discover what the problem was.  She ate less and less and got quieter and quieter.  At last a diagnosis was made. She was in acute renal failure. Kidney problems are often hidden by overactive thyroid and, now that this was being controlled, the underlying renal failure was exposed. Tests revealed extremely high levels of enzymes which would have killed many cats.  Daisy was exceptionally strong and we hoped that she could fight this.

It was decided to reduce the dose of thyroid tablets and give an additional tablet, Fortekor, to help the kidneys and stimulate appetite.  She was put on a drip and admitted to vet hospital for the weekend in the hope that fluids would flush out the toxins and give the new tablet régime a chance to work.  At first, the signs were encouraging, but then it became obvious that she was not responding.  She was depressed and lethargic and we were told she felt nauseous.

We took her back to our vet practice, hoping that she could have at least some time back at home.  But it was not to be.  She was obviously feeling extremely unwell and there was no possibility of improvement. It would not have been kind to prolong her suffering.  The vet was very compassionate; she said: “If it was my cat, I would do the same thing”.  By coincidence my friend Jackie (a founder member of the Daisy Fan Club) was at the vets at the same time, and we were able to say goodbye to her together. 

 I always wondered how she came to be abandoned in that way. I imagined some kind of bitter domestic quarrel and one partner taking the other one’s beloved cat, sadistically dumping her in such a way that she would not stand a chance – unless by the greatest of good fortune someone were to come along and find her. Over the years, I have often thought about that person left bereft, robbed of a beloved companion, never knowing what had happened to her. She was, and is, deeply loved, and we did our best to give her a good and happy life.                                           Debby

 

 

HAMISH’S HOPE 

‘A place to go where others know how much you miss your precious pet’

This is a new bereavement resource, set up in late 2011 in memory of Hamish, a very special dog. (See the letter from Yvonne Mulvaney, in the ‘Your Letters’ section of this newsletter).

 Hamish had given Yvonne and her family so much love and joy and, like so many others who have lost a precious pet, their sense of devastation, grief, emptiness and loneliness at his loss was profound. Yvonne says:  “Many times we felt how good it would have been just to be able to meet and talk with others who’d gone through the same experience.”

‘Hamish’s Hope’ was started by Yvonne and Chris as a way of bringing together those who had suffered the loss of a much-loved pet, in friendship, sympathy, understanding and acceptance. ‘Hamish’s Hope’ support groups meet once a month, for a couple of hours over tea and biscuits with the simple aim of people talking and supporting each other in their loss, sharing their memories and honouring the life of their very special friend.

You are welcome to come as many times and for as long as you wish; to share as little or as much as feels right for you. Your loss may be recent or some time ago. Whatever the circumstances are of your loss you will find a kindly listening ear and others who will not judge you. You can feel reassured that your privacy will be respected and no-one will discuss anything they hear outside of ‘Hamish’s Hope’ meetings.

All are welcome; there is no charge for attending the meetings other than for refreshments.  At present the meetings take place in Leeds, but they are hoping to start in South Wales very soon, and branch out into other areas.  To find out more:

Telephone Yvonne 07951 687411

or Chris 07866 510711

email        Yvonne@hamishshope.co.uk

Or you can get in touch by completing the ‘Contact Us’ form on the web site www.hamishshope.co.uk


 ~ FORGET ME NOT ~  

These beautiful credit-card sized memorial cards are of high quality and affordable to most pockets – costing £6.90 each, inclusive of packing and postage.

You can carry them in your wallet as a constant reminder of your beloved companion, and they are a great comfort.

Mike Stennett (see his letter in the ‘Your Letters’ section of this newsletter) produces images on metal for a wide range of purposes and occasions: happy like birthdays and baby scans or sad like baby loss or loss of a companion animal.

You can order a card online at www.4getmenots.co.uk

or contact Mike Stennett at:

3 Pendas Way, Crossgates, Leeds  LS15 8HU

Tel: 0113 2957 321

Mobile: 0791 709 4587

 Your Letters ……

I lost my own beloved little West Highland Terrier, Hamish, last June and the devastation was beyond words and I still grieve and miss him so very much. I feel when he died that my life changed utterly and completely and will never be the same again.  We did give a home to a lovely, gentle little Westie girl who is elderly and had been neglected so at least I feel I am doing some good.

I felt prompted to do something good in his memory and with a friend in Wales have started a Pet Bereavement support group, Hamish’s Hope, where people can come along and meet others and talk and support each other through their grief.  We hold meetings in Leeds, Yorkshire, at present and are hoping to start in South Wales very soon.

We do this completely free of charge but are struggling to get known.  We do have a web site

www.hamishshope.co.uk and I wondered if you feel there is any way we could link in with each other to enhance the support we seek to give those who need help.

Yvonne Mulvaney

 There are some animals who are ‘special’ in a way that defies description. What a wonderful way to commemorate such a one and make something positive come out of the depths of loss. (See p.2 for details about Hamish’s Hope).

*

I’ve had and lost loads of pets – rats, rabbits, even a duck called Des (the last to go was Toffee,  a rescue bun who sadly died a couple of weeks ago).
I’m a small one man (and his wife) band business putting images on metal some of which involves doing memorials for a baby loss organisation who recently asked me if I could make some personalised credit card size metal cards so that people could constantly carry a reminder with them.

Although very sad, these are proving very popular and so I thought it would be a good idea to also offer them to pet owners. I want to get these known because I know they are a comfort to people.

Mike Stennett

See above for details of this delightful and comforting resource, and other items in the ‘Forget Me Not’ range of cards, plus Ashes casket plaque and Slate grave/favourite spot marker.

 *

Many thanks for recent DF newsletter.  I was so sorry to read about Krishna (no. 47).  She was a very pretty cat and it was so sad after Poppsy had the same illness.  I am glad Mumia is well.  I was also very sorry to read about Sandy the dog who came from Greece.  I belong to the charity Greek Animal Rescue who are based in London and Vesna Jones who runs the charity visits Greece and helps a lot of dogs and cats, rescues some and with help of overseas charities rehomes some in various countries including some in the UK.

I am so glad Maureen has another little rescue dog Angel. She looks very sweet. A very determined little dog, and I wish Maureen many happy years with her.  I like to hear of animals rescued from Spain or overseas. I understand a lot have very hard lives and a lot can be abandoned.

Louie a lovely cat but quite sad for him to be without a true home but Celia did all she humanly could. What a good thing he came to Celia when he needed help so badly and she was there for him.  So sad and cruel when a family abandons their cat.  Please pass on my condolences to Celia.  I’m sure he loved her just as she loved him ~ owned by no-one but belonged to everyone is a very true saying.

You asked in the newsletter if anyone knew of the poem ‘The Power of the Dog’ by Rudyard Kipling.  Part of it is used in the book ‘My Dog Rex’ written by Arthur Holman about his famous and courageous police dog Rex the 3rd.  Rex died of throat cancer first and Mr Holman also passed away quite a few years ago.

Mrs M.C.  

Our cockatiel Joey passed away at the end of February this year aged 15 years and 6 months.  He was grey in colour with a touch of orange on his face.He belonged to my husband who passed away on May 29th2008 after suffering a stroke age 80.We had Joey from 2 months old and miss him very much.  His only words were:“Joey Joey quick quick.”We now have a blue and grey budgie aged 4 years whose name is Tim.

Mrs M.C.

It is with great   sadness to report the death of Poppy, during June 2012. Beautiful Golden Persian who reached the ripe old age of 19½ years.Poppy was owned by   lovely people, Pat & David of Lincoln, and was mother to Honey-Baby, featured in a recent   issue of DF (no. 46).Poppy survived her   daughter by 9 months.  Age caught up   with her and there were times when she was unwell, but always seemed to rally  round.Much love to Pat   & David during their sad loss.

Lynn Burman

  

PURPLE POPPY UPDATE

~ Remembering animal victims of war ~ 

Animal Aid launched   its Purple Poppy in 2006 to commemorate the millions of animals who have lost   their lives in human wars. See  

DFs 26, 44 and 45 for features on animals in war, and the Purple Poppy   campaign).

In the first year, Animal Aid sold only 1,000 poppies but received encouraging messages from Army veterans.  Purple poppies have been increasingly well received and in 2011, more than 30,000 poppies were sold – being displayed in vets, libraries, sanctuaries, supermarkets and high street stalls.

Wreaths have been laid at cenotaphs around the country, including by members of Quaker Concern for Animals, in Birkenhead.  For the second year running, a wreath was laid at the Animals in War memorial on 11th November, with Animal Aid’s Director Andrew Tyler, and human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell saying a few words; the animals were remembered with a minute’s silence.

Eastbourne MP Steven Lloyd came along to buy a purple poppy and to support local World War 2 veterans who were selling the purple poppy.

 Examples of use in modern warfare include animals being trained as part of bomb disposal teams; dolphins and seals being used at sea for mine detection work.  At least 14 British Army sniffer dogs have died in the Iraq and Afghanistan land wars.  One of these deaths was widely reported in June, when a Springer Spaniel named Theo suffered a seizure shortly after his handler had been killed in a gun battle.  It was widely believed that Theo had died of a broken heart. 

On a happier note, Kilo (pictured here wearing a purple poppy garland) was rescued   by a female British soldier serving in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.  She was looked after by NOWZAD DOGS, which   is  an    organisation  that rescues, rehabilitates and rehomes dogs in Afghanistan and Iraq.

After completing her quarantine, Kilo is now doing really well at home with the mother of the soldier who first stopped to feed Kilo. (See also DF 41 for a feature on Nowzad Dogs).

 Information for this feature from Animal Aid.

For the full article, please see:

http://www.animalaid.org.uk/images/pdf/poppyupdate2011.pdf

 This year, DF reader Caroline Turner is again organising a fundraising and Purple Poppy Awareness stall for Animal Aid in Luton Town Centre, on Saturday 27 October 2012, and Peter and I will be helping.

It is well worth doing a stall, or approaching your local supermarket, vet practice or library, to ask if they will take poppies to display and sell.

To find out more, or to order purple poppies:

Animal Aid

The Old Chapel, Bradford Street,

Tonbridge, Kent TR9 1AW

Tel:  01732 364 546

www.animalaid.org.uk   info@animalaid.org.uk

WORKING ANIMALS

 “Rusty was more than my big dog and best friend; he was also my ears as I’m registered deaf”**

 **(Name and some identifying details changed to preserve confidentiality).

 These were the words of a DF client, after the death of a much-loved companion who was not only deeply grieved for his own sake, but also because of the partial loss of independence that his death caused my client.

For many disabled people dependent on service animals, acquiring a speedy ‘replacement’ is a matter of necessity rather than choice.  If euthanasia is planned, steps can be taken to minimise distress to the owner and ensure continuity of care by involving the organisation that provided the animal as soon as possible, preferably in advance.

However, if the death or euthanasia is unexpected and takes place outside the home, for example at the veterinary surgery, the owner might need immediate practical help – simply to get home.

Vet practices and provider organisations (e.g. Guide Dogs – formerly called the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association) will be aware that any bereavement their client is suffering will be compounded by the abrupt and immediate curtailment of independence and socialisation.

It may not be possible to get another animal immediately and, when the new animal does arrive, the owner may not bond successfully, due to unresolved grief for the one that has died. The partnership will also be completely different and both will have to learn to work together. It may be hard for such owners to reconcile the practical need for immediate ‘replacement’ with the emotional conviction that they are not yet ready to relate to another animal. Vet practices and provider agencies should therefore be able to provide information on counselling or support groups where they can talk through such painful feelings in a supported, empathetic environment.

Guide Dogs has gardens of remembrance, where scattering the ashes or placing a plaque could help owners work through their grief.

By ensuring that any emotional needs are met in parallel with the apparently conflicting practical needs, the mental pain of owners may be softened and they may soon come to appreciate the practical advantages of restoring independence by acquiring another assistance animal before they were emotionally ready.

There is also another dimension to the grief process when the animal has shared a different kind of partnership, such as dogs who help farmers with their daily work and may also compete in Sheep Dog Trials, or horses who have carried their human partners to glory in competitive events, or explored the countryside with them for pleasure and relaxation.  The death of such a one can mean a loss of livelihood and also of socialisation, as well as the sorrow caused by the bereavement itself.

And the loss does not have to be caused by death. I remember some of the riders in the 2012 Olympics saying how they had developed a deep connection with their horses – and then the news immediately after the Games that the horses were going to be sold.

 

And finally……

 Two broadcasts to watch online:

 1)     Man’s Best Friend?

In DF no. 44 I reported that a group called Youth with a Mission had interviewed me for a slot in a short film about a Nigerian man who is used to eating dogs.  He comes to England and undertakes to look after a friend’s dog, Scooby, for a week while she is on holiday. He meets several people, including me, in order to learn more about the concept of dogs as companion animals and members of the family.  The video is now out on YouTube. (The two cats who make a brief appearance are first Poppsy on the floor, and then Krishna on the arm of the sofa).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hz3Oyp-lOnA

 2)  4thought.tv – Do Animals have Souls?

For those of you who may have missed it, here is the short (less than 2 minutes) slot shown on Channel 4 in the UK, on 18 August 2012. There was a week of broadcasts on the same theme from people with different views and experiences.

http://www.4thought.tv/themes/do-animals-have-souls/debby-wakeham?autoplay=true

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