Departed Friend Newsletter No. 46 March 2012

10 Years of Departed Friend

Exactly 10 years ago, the first edition of Departed Friend newsletter came into being.  I had for some time been troubled by the fact that there was a fundamental lack of understanding out there, and, above all, that the average person would not know where to turn in their distress when they lost a much-loved companion. Knowing from personal experience how painful the loss of our animal friends can be, and having had experience in counselling for human bereavement, I wanted to do something about it.

One morning I literally had a Eureka! moment. Like Archimedes, I suddenly sat up in my bath – the idea was born. I would produce a newsletter for people bereaved by the loss of an animal. As far as I knew, this had not been done before. I was aware of helplines, websites, chatrooms and publications which would allow tributes but, to my knowledge, there was no such thing as a newsletter devoted purely to this topic. I quickly decided on Departed Friend for the title and set out to produce the first edition. 

                                                                                                           In March 2002, issue no. 1 was ready. It contained a tribute to a wonderful pony called Spirit who did not belong to me but whom I used to ride and still missed greatly.  It helped to write it down and give her

the recognition she deserved.  This set the tone for the tributes I began to receive subsequently from other bereaved people who wish to commemorate their lost loved ones. 

I sent out a pilot mailing of 50 copies of Issue 1 to people I hoped would be interested: personal friends who owned or who simply loved animals, and those involved with animal welfare; it was well received.

Since then, circulation has grown and people can choose whether to receive the newsletter by post or by email. I have noticed an increased awareness and understanding of this kind of bereavement and am pleased to say that the media are now taking it much more seriously, nowadays mostly treating it with respect rather than ridicule. 

                                                                                                                  There have been some landmark developments for Departed Friend along the way, the first of which was kick-started by the loss of my beloved Eric (pale ginger cat) in 2008.I had been meaning for some time to do a distance learning course on Companion Animal Bereavement Counselling with the Animal Care College,

to set what I was already doing on a professional footing and expand what I could offer, but somehow I had never got around to it.  When Eric died, I decided to make some good come out of that terrible day, 13 February 2008, and wrote the letter of application to the College, intending to dedicate all my coursework to Eric. 

                                                                                            I was accepted and started the course on 1st May 2008 (the 5th anniversary of the passing of my wonderful white cat, Spooky) completing the course in a year.

I got the grades that were worthy of Eric, and thought that he would be proud of me.  I was now a fully-fledged professional, accredited by the National Open College Network.  As well as the newsletter, I offer support by letter, email, text and telephone (7pm – 9pm on weekday evenings).  I have also started offering face to face support in my local area.

The next landmark was the blog.  My husband Peter kindly offered to set this up for DF – and showed me how to edit and update it.  (A long, laborious process accompanied by many a swearword when things go wrong!  But well worth it).  He has also just set up a new website for DF, which is currently under construction and will eventually contain information on all aspects of DF’s work and services.

While I was researching material for newsletter no. 36 (September 2009) Peter accidentally came across the website of EASE – a small charity offering companion animal bereavement counselling by email, and also support in preparing for pet loss. I was so impressed as I had never come across this before, and I contacted EASE to ask their permission to feature them in the newsletter.  They said yes.  They were also impressed with DF and we had a very positive meeting.  I was honoured and delighted when they asked me to become part of the expanding EASE team, and I have been volunteering with them now for two years.  It is good to be able to help people in distress.

DF has grown from strength to strength in the last 10 years, being featured in the local press and on stalls; I also gave a talk to the AGM of the Association of Private Pet Cemeteries and Crematoria and have established contact with various organisations and agencies including local vet surgeries.

The growth and development of DF has been in large part due to the support and generosity of our readers, who send in moving tributes, poems and photographs, as well as generous donations of stamps and money to keep the service going.  My very grateful thanks to you all.

Significant developments in DF have been marked by losses as mentioned above, and sadly, this 10-year anniversary is no different.  On 17 January 2012, we had to say goodbye to a gentle and deeply-loved companion of the last 16 years, sister to Mumia and Krishna ……….


On 10 December 2011, we got the news we had been half expecting ~ and dreading.  Poppsy, aged 16  and a half, had not been herself for a few weeks.  The change was subtle, but worrying.  She was still eating, still waking me up at 4 in the morning, “whispurring” in my ear and trampling my hair into the pillow; still “helping” us type (producing words like “fffttttt9999” in the middle of our work ~ I guess this must mean something in Feline but I have no idea what); still standing in front of the monitor, or even pressing the key that turns it off when we were at the computer.  But she seemed somehow diminished, not quite so vibrant, as if someone had turned the volume down. 

The vet gave her a thorough examination and then the diagnosis ~ she had a mass on or near her liver, which was almost certainly cancer.  He gave her 2 months at the most.  Because of her age and the fact that it was almost certainly inoperable, he did not recommend putting her through invasive and useless tests but advised us to let nature take its course. He told us to spoil her and then let her go with dignity when her appetite went; we agreed.  She had 5 weeks and 2 days left….

In 1995, my son Richard’s cat became pregnant, despite my having nagged him constantly to get her spayed.  He said he had good homes lined up for the kittens. When they were born, he invited us to see them; they were beautiful ~ two tabbies and two tortoiseshells, all girls.  Then he changed his mind about the good homes ~ he did not trust the people after all and could I take them on.  I said yes, with the intention of finding them good homes.  They were nine weeks old and I let them have the run of the house during the day and shut them in their own room overnight.  Each morning I woke to the sound of urgent squeaky miaouws and when I went into the room, I would gather the four tiny bundles into my hands and marvel at the loudness of their engines ~ they sounded like little motorbikes.

Prissy, a gorgeous tortoiseshell, quickly found a home, and so did tabby Krishna.  (Krishna later returned because her owner had to go away a lot and did not think it was fair to keep asking us to look after her; we willingly agreed to have her back). That left tabby Poppsy and the other tortoiseshell, Mumia.  They were fond of each other so I wanted them to be homed together.  This nearly happened twice but both homes fell through and by this time I was too attached to them to let them go. 

Shortly after being spayed, Poppsy developed a hormone imbalance, losing much of the fur on her back.  This went on for years, though eventually she was able to stop treatment and the fur grew back. I always wondered if it happened because she wanted to have kittens; she would have been a wonderful mother.  She was the biggest and we think she was the firstborn; Richard had acted as midwife and helped her into the outside world.

She got on well with most of the others, but for some reason disliked our pale ginger, Eric, bullying him remorselessly.  She did not actually fight him but instead she stalked him, intimidating him psychologically, staring him down and forcing him off the bed. I often wished he would smack her one, but he was far too chivalrous and scared of her, even though he was fearless with toms.  I do, however, have a rare photograph of Eric and Poppsy actually sharing a beanbag.

She developed mammary cancer about three years ago and the vet saved her life, performing two big operations called the Mammary Strip ~ removing each row of mammary glands.  Poppsy was very strong and recovered remarkably well, enduring having to wear an “Elizabethan collar” with long-suffering patience. 

When we got Henry, she got on very well with him and he used to lick her forehead as an early morning ritual on the bed; he then lowered his head for her to return the compliment, but she never did, though once or twice we thought she was about to do so.

It was only in her later years that she ever sat on our lap; she learned to do this by first sitting on an upended TV dinner tray, beanbag side up!  From this, she graduated to sitting on laps and decided she liked it.

In her last few weeks, she became thin and wobbly but kept going by sheer willpower: still eating, still purring and still taking pleasure in being brushed.  When she was stronger, she used to like us to use the vacuum cleaner on her, refusing to move when we were trying to do the chair she was sitting on, until we had first vacuumed her!

Those last weeks were a roller coaster; there were times when I thought: Today is the day… then she would rally and demand food and seem to take pleasure in life and I would sigh with relief at the reprieve. I had a silver pendant made of one of her pawprints, by Karan’s Silver (see DF45) with her name engraved on the back. I took photos and short videos of her with my phone and digital camera.

In the afternoon of 17 January, there was a definite deterioration.  She asked for food (it was fish, her favourite) but she could not eat it.  She looked at me in a puzzled kind of way as if to say: “What is happening?”  I thought ~ I can’t make it better, but I can make it stop. 

When she could not eat her evening meal, but instead lay on her side looking rather uncomfortable, I knew it was time to make that phone call…..

While at the vets, by coincidence I saw Lynda, a good friend from work, who herself has cats and knows the pain of losing them.  She came into the surgery just in time to say goodbye to Poppsy and to hug me; she then went into the waiting room to comfort Peter.

It was very quick; Poppsy had gone before the injection had finished going in.  The vet said: “She is in a field, playing with butterflies”.  She then told me about her husband’s dog, who is buried in their garden. She said flowers grew around the grave.  I asked if they had planted them there and she said no, they had come up by themselves. I found this strangely comforting.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 We buried Poppsy in the garden, on the opposite side to Eric, and had candles burning all night. 

She still helps and inspires my work, but now in a different way, from a different place.


On 10 January 2012, the vet found a mass in Krishna’s stomach.  It all seems unreal ~ like a macabre action replay.  But thankfully, at the time of writing this tribute to Poppsy, Krishna is doing all right.  She is quite thin but still enjoying life, eating well and purring on the arm of Peter’s chair as he sits and strokes her while watching television.




“The owners of departed pets want to know:

  • That their pets are happy
  • That their own grief is normal
  • That they will be reunited with their pets one day,
  • and that it’s OK to love again.

 Bill at Rainbow Bridge fulfils these wishes.”

 So reads the promotion on the back of this remarkable little book – and it is right; Bill at Rainbow Bridge does all this, and more.

This unusual bereavement resource is written in the form of a story, taking us through the arrival of Bill, a much-loved British Bulldog, at Rainbow Bridge, and the journey through grief of David, the man he left behind.  Enhanced by beautiful illustrations by Peg DuVal, Dan Carrison’s book touches upon difficult topics, such as David’s feelings of shame and embarrassment at being unable to control his emotions and his wife’s concern for him, alongside her thinking David’s suffering is misplaced “and very nearly an affront to her own grief at the loss of her mother”.  These and other issues are raised and worked through in a gentle, positive manner.

The chapters describing how Bill and his animal friends spend their days at Rainbow Bridge – and what happens when a human is suddenly spotted at the Bridge – are interspersed with the steps David takes, supported by his wife, Susan, to try and come to terms with his terrible grief.  He books an appointment with a pet bereavement counsellor who understands to the core his pain as he himself has endured the loss of a beloved cat.  He joins a support group of people who share reminiscences of their departed friends and find this therapeutic.  David also decides, although this at first seems strange to him, to write a letter to Bill.  Eventually he is able to contemplate helping others through their grief and even investing love in another dog, while acknowledging that he is not “replacing” Bill and that the relationship with the new dog is entirely different.

The book is written from the heart and certainly engages the emotions as well as the mind, but it is not sentimental or sugary. The sixty four thousand dollar question of survival after death is assumed, from a scientific point of view.  As a member of the bereavement support group says:

“I’m an engineer. I deal in facts and figures, and I appreciate Einstein’s theory of the conservation of energy.  Basically he showed us that energy cannot be destroyed. The energy that made up our loved ones … doesn’t simply vanish when they die, because energy cannot be destroyed. …. That’s why I don’t think the idea of Rainbow Bridge is far fetched at all…”

The book has been selling well in the USA and has now become available in the UK, as an inexpensive digital copy available on Kindle or to download to your pc, from

Or you can get a copy from Dan himself, with an inscription of your choice, from

There is also a tab entitled “Friends of Bill”, with links to important pet bereavement services.

The book was featured in the January 2012 issue of Dogs Monthly magazine  One of the editors of Dogs Monthly, noted British author and pet specialist Caroline Davis, was so impressed that she is now the distributor of the paperback edition of the book for the UK. She can be reached at or on tel. 01406 331421, if you prefer to have a paperback rather than a digital copy.

Send cheque for £9.50 payable to ‘Mrs. C. Davis’,

Rivendell, Lambert Bank, Gedney Hill, Lincolnshire PE12 0PR.

As a companion animal bereavement counsellor, I unreservedly recommend this wonderful book, which I am certain will bring comfort and solace to people going through the pain of losing a beloved animal friend, giving them the reassurance they so badly need that their grief is normal and that there are people out there who truly understand.


Goodbye Dear Friend

It wasn’t a protracted illness, it happened quite quickly. I noticed a decline in his appetite and energy levels about a week before I took him to the vet and though I didn’t want to admit it I knew, just knew it was serious. It turned out that Sox, my 18 year old cat who’d been with me since he was a kitten, had a rare form of heart disease that’s known as the silent killer, silent because there’s no sign there’s anything wrong until very near the end. Hard though it was, the decision to put him to sleep was the right one and I was thankful I could be with him at the end just like, three and a half years ago, he was there for me when I needed him.

Sox is buried in my back garden. I will buy a rose bush to mark the bright and sunny spot where he rests and I will think of him often. He was a lovely cat, good natured and affectionate and handsome too. Sox wasn’t my pet, he was my friend and I loved him.

Jeff Kleinman
















Your Letters ……

Dear Debby

Just wanted to say it will be 1 year on 24 March since my Jessica crossed Rainbow Bridge & went to Heaven. Time passes so fast and I miss her every day, but the pain does heal & life is never the same. She comes to me in dreams when I am upset or in trouble, and her life & love will never die.

I never had anything published, but her death enabled me to write a tribute from my heart, which you kindly published and I returned to the Church, (I am a Roman Catholic) to feel closer to Jessica and heal from the pain, Jessica renewed my faith!

She taught me valuable life lessons on her short time with me and I will never forget her.

Life with Marmalade is one glamorous furry whirl, he is my constant source of joy, devotion, fun & unlimited unconditional love, in fact he gave me an early Mother’s Day present of a poor little Christmas Robin today.

I would be grateful, if possible to mention Jessica in your forthcoming newsletter

Blessings, Hazel Fernandes

We are both OK and our Lucky is so lovely.  He is such a happy little doggie and we love him so much. He has helped us so much over the past 2 years since we lost our beloved Benji

Could you please put a little piece in your newsletter in memory of Benji and Pepper. 

Benji died on the 19-2-10, Pepper 2-11-93.  We love and miss them both so much.

Love from Valerie, Michael & Lucky Lockwood



                                                                                                                               Money Pilbeam ~ sable tabby, was a bit of an icon ~ a street charmer. Known to many, yet owned by none. As a young cat, he and his buddy – another tabby, wandered      

into a car repair garage in Lincoln ~ and there they putdown roots ~ for the next sixteen years!

Kind folk, who lived close by, fed them and fussed them as they sat upon the pavement, basking in the sun’s rays and searched for any shelter and comfort they could find on cold wintry days. As time passed, one cat disappeared leaving Money alone.

I first met Money some six years ago when homeless myself and wandering the streets.  Most days I looked out for the little guy, who seemed so sad and forlorn, lifted him into my arms, hugging him close to me ~ we gave to one another a touch of solace and comfort.

People were kind and I made lasting friendships within the area and it came to be that when I found a place to live I visited these people most days and Money, for one, was pleased about this.  We two had formed a special bond that was to grow stronger as the years passed.

Most nights I would think of him, worrying he would be out in the cold, foraging for a bite to eat.

Come the morning, I would set off early on the long journey to meet with him and take him his breakfast. Mostly he was there, waiting.

Knowing I would be coming to him, he would spy me from a distance, cross roads and make his way toward me.

We would then spend a little private time together during which he would sit high on a wall or the bonnet of a car, purring loudly and rolling around in his contentment.  We indulged in conversation whilst I groomed and fussed him.

Often I would find him sitting upon a friend’s doorstep – as I entered he would cheekily follow me inside, knowing a treat awaited.

The Corner Shop was another of his places to visit.

Christmas 2008 Money became sick with Cat Flu and came home to stay with me and be nursed and kept warm and, most of all, cherished.  He was not expected to live long but with round-the-clock care, he survived, though many trips to the vet were to come.

He had developed a heart condition and was to take medication for the rest of his life.

By now, he had reached the ripe old age of 17 years.

One day, a few months ago, a little miracle occurred – Money became like a kitten again – agile, running around his room, leaping on chairs and vocalising, not only loud purring but maeows and wows when food appeared or when anyone visited.  He liked to play “Hide & Seek” and grew a touch mischievous.  After all the years, Money Pilbeam had found a life – a happy one.

On the morning of 6th January 2012 I rose and took him his breakfast to find he wasn’t able to stand.  My first thought was he had been leaping around and pulled a muscle.

Off to the vet we went and two hours of tests followed.  The prognosis was grim.  Money had severely hardened arteries and a mass was discovered close to his brain.  No cure for this.

He came home for a final few hours – time to say our Goodbyes.  The shock was enormous, unbelievable.  It couldn’t be for real.  Money ate a last meal and for two hours I nursed him – holding him extra tightly which he had always liked.  His head lay against my chest and I blew warm air into his fur which made him purr all the louder and sweeter….. He lifted his head to look at me, he knew what was happening and did not wish to leave me.

I sang him his song one last time, and he kissed my nose.  After what seemed to be a lifetime, it was time to take the long painful journey.

Tears streamed continuously down my face as I looked upon him ~ remembering ~ not wishing this to be the end.  The bond of friendship we had formed was special, based upon a mutual love and care and respect.

Money Pilbeam had waited some 17 long years for me to enter his life, rescue him and bring him home.

Barely two weeks have passed since my beautiful buddy left and life is lonely, the room he inhabited is bleak.  I miss his presence there beside me and know a long time must pass before the heartache begins to heal.  He was the shining star in a period of my life which was often bleak and lonely.

“Goodnight & God Bless, Money Pilbeam”.  Y X

Lynn Burman











Tribute to HONEY-BABY


 This is a tribute to “Honey-Baby” – a golden Persian who belonged to my friend, 97 year old  Mrs Winifred Wood.

Honey lived to be 17 years old and was a thoroughly chilled out – laid back kitty with the sweetest nature, except when she was being groomed.  At that time, Heaven help the person who was grooming for Honey kicked up an unbelievable fuss!!

In later years she suffered an occasional fit and went blind during such an episode.

Now Honey had grown up alongside a family of dogs and cats who all loved to play and lounge in their big garden.  The first time I met her she was sprawled in the greenhouse taking in the sun’s warmth streaming through the windows ~ purring loudly.  She was big on purrs was our Honey.

And so it became a pleasant routine that on fine days I would carry her around the garden she loved and though she could no longer see, she enjoyed our times together and would cuddle into me as we took in the warm air or sat side by side upon the garden bench. 

Even though blind she would often make her way down the Pampas grass and play with the long green leaves.

Come September 2011.  Honey began showing signs of another type of illness which turned out to be cancerous tumours.  There was no more the vet could do and so we bid our farewells within the garden she loved – heart-broken at having to let her go.

Our lovely friend now rests beneath the Pampas grass in the shade of the big old pear tree.  White rose petals were scattered upon her grave, as a symbol of the love we felt for her.

Come the Springtime when the garden comes into bloom once again, Honey-Baby will not be here to enjoy it, though we remember her and feel her gentle presence every day.

Lynn Burman 

The Gratitude Exercise

 The Gratitude Exercise can be carried out where and when it feels right and comfortable to do so, whether that be sitting in the sun, by the fire or on a couch together – wherever you both feel relaxed and safe. The main thing is that it is in a quiet environment with no interruption, when you can feel free to speak aloud and where your pet is quietly sitting with you.

Start by simply calling over out aloud the many good qualities of your pet, and the great times you have shared together.  This can be in the way of a storyline of your association, or in whatever way suits your situation and relationship.  Speak of the many good things that have been shared between you, the value and love which you hold for your companion, their importance in your life, and how much you cherish them.

Bring in particular memories or stories if you feel moved to do so, and try to feel free enough to laugh or to cry as you need to. Thank your pet for what they have offered to you in these times, and feel and share with them how much you love them and the gratitude you hold for all that they offer and give to you.

Take the time this needs, whether this be ten minutes or an hour – each relationship and situation is unique. Once you have finished, allow yourself to be fully with the sense of love and gratitude, and imagine it filling up you, your pet and the place where you are.

This exercise can be done as often as feels necessary and beneficial, perhaps broken up into several smaller sessions or repeated at regular intervals, depending on what feels right for your own situation.  It can be done at any time, although it may be needed particularly when the pet is ill, to help healing and to promote well being.

~ Reproduced with kind permission of EASE; this first appeared on the EASE website and can be found at:





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’.

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.

Departed Friend Newsletter no. 43 June 2011

Jessica My Beloved Forever Angel

~ Love Never Dies ~

 I only truly appreciated how special Jessica was when I lost her, I only wish I had realised it when she was living.  One consolation to me was that Jessica was taken from me when she was at her happiest & was at peace and loved so much, she went in dignity.  I have learnt from this and other experiences of pet loss that it is a special type of bereavement and you have to be discerning as to who you tell & confide in, as not everyone will understand or be compassionate or sympathetic.  Jessica was very much an individual, who was irreplaceable & unique & more precious than gold.

I will never forget that fateful day, when my life would be changed forever. It was Sunday 23 August 2009 a lovely Summer’s Day, when I spied a tiny black cat with a cute white bib, sitting in the garden on the corner of the step, arms elegantly folded underneath her and her brow furrowed in thought, she looked lost in her thoughts and did not look happy. It was at that moment that I fell in love with her, I thought she was a beautiful cute little kitten.

She never had a good start in life, she had an abusive owner who neglected her and removed all her teeth, but she taught me to accept nothing less than love in my life and that abuse & bullying & jealousy is not love. She taught me that nobody should have to put up with abuse, we are all born to be treated with love & respect. She showed immense courage & strength by leaving her abusive owner and trusting and living with me. For 9 years and 8 months she did not know what love was or to be cared for before that.

It really feels like an important family member has left our lives, Jessica was loved by me so much, that I would do anything for her, and she was so worth it. She had so much to live for. I miss her terribly every day, but I am grateful to have shared my life and love with such a special angel who loved me unconditionally, like the love of a Mother, or the love of God, she brought me joy, fun, happiness & love and never hurt, bullied or abused me.

Jessica’s love was different than the complicated relationships of humans. She was always there for me, never criticized me or held grudges & always forgave me no matter what. Are there any humans in your life that have given to you that selflessly?

I have so many happy memories in the 1 and half years that I felt privileged to have spent with her, I wish I had more time with her, but I was unprepared as she could not fight the illnesses anymore and I knew deep down in my heart that she was passing, but never gave up hope on her.

She taught me what real love was & to accept nothing less, to be loved and cared about.

I will always love her and she is in my heart, I believe that she is still with me, but re-born in a better place, Love never dies and she will always be with me until the end.  I feel that I am beginning to heal from the dark traumatic days, and Jessica will be forever in my heart, forever in my life. True Love, like hers, never dies.

I just wanted to add that I was greatly helped, when I was arranging Jessica’s Service, by Linda Bodicoat’s book Return To The Fold, where I found the prayers and readings a source of peace and comfort, and the service was inspired by her book, she had also kindly rushed out her copy of the book to me in time for the Service.

                                                  Hazel Fernandes


Grieving and loving again

Something which people who lose a beloved companion animal often have to contend with, is well-meaning people advising them to “get another one” to help them “get over it”.

 As Jane* observed:  ‘One of the problems with explaining to friends how I’m feeling is that most of them seem to think that everything will be OK re the emptiness in the house and missing Freddie if I get another dog asap or in the fullness of time.  I simply can’t handle hearing this the whole time.’

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

 Though the advice to “get another one” is usually well-intentioned, it is about as sensitive as advising someone who has just lost their partner to join a dating agency.  People need time to mourn and to decide for themselves when, or if, they want to have another animal.

However, some people do choose to do so while still grieving, and they can derive much comfort and healing from starting to love and build a relationship with a new, entirely different, character who slowly but surely carves his or her unique place in the heart. The following people (whose special companions have featured in previous newsletters) have kindly allowed me to share their thoughts:

Valerie Lockwood (Benji and Lucky)

 The loss of Benji is still so strong (see newsletter no. 39, ed.) but loving our lovely Lucky is helping; bless him we love him so much, but my tears flow so often still, for Benji.                                    


In memory of our Beloved Benji

 30–8–1994  Born
19–2–2010  Died


  We love and miss you so very much,
and always will.
God bless my darling.

Kath Greenslade (Tace and Ty-Son)

 In Memory of Tace 1st April 2010

 It’s Twelve Months since that sad Day the Angels came and      
took Our Precious Tace Away. We Still Love You and Miss 
        You So Very Much More
Than Words Can Say.
 And Think about You Each And Every Day.  We Still Feel the       
 Pain of losing you –  the pain will never go away.

 But Happy Memories of the eight Years we had with you are  locked in our hearts each and every day that passes until the  day we meet again.

 So Good Night God Bless You Tace
Please wait for us on the Rainbow Bridge
All our love and kisses to our loving Tace

From Mum, Dad, Ben & Puppy Ty-Son

 On 12th April we’ve had Ty-Son 12 months and it’s been a very happy 12 months.  He’s been so good, no bother at all. Tace was a little terror when she was his age, bless her, but he’s so different – shares his toys with you to play with him. Tace was very possessive over her toys; they were hers and that was it.



 Carole Share (Harvey and Jasper)

 I still find it so so hard without Harvey and to talk or even think about him the pain hurts so much.  I have got another little dog name Jasper; he is a Black Roan.  He has helped me a lot.  I am putting a photo of Jasper in with this letter.



  Debby (Eric and Henry)

When our pale ginger boy Eric died on 13 February 2008, it was nearly two years before we  could contemplate  getting  another boy cat.  Then came our handsome black Henry. The feelings of getting to know and love him ran side by side with pangs of “If only Poppsy had not bullied Eric; why couldn’t she have liked him as much as she likes Henry?” and gestures and sounds and funny positions that Henry gets himself into that reminded us of Eric. But Henry has steadily been establishing his imprint – things he does and says, positions and rituals (like lying on my stomach at 5am, reaching over to lick Poppsy’s head as she sits on my pillow) which are entirely his – he is steadily weaving his own history into our lives.  

 We have now had Henry 18 months; he is not ‘Eric mark 2’; he is an individual in his own right – and a much-loved member of the family.


 Acquiring another Animal Companion whilst coming to terms with Recent Loss 

by Lynn Burman 

When Pollyangel (6) went on her last journey the pain of loss was indescribable (see DF no. 37) – no words can describe how empty and grief-stricken I felt, to the point of thinking it would not be possible to go on living without my dearest friend.

Lincoln Cat Care were most supportive, as well as telling me about a 6 month old female cat in their care who no-one seemed to want.  She along with two others had been discovered in a dump-bin when only a few days old.  They asked if I would like to adopt her.  My initial instincts were it was not possible to replace the unique Pollyangel, no other cat could ever match up to her beautiful loving qualities. And yet, I was unable to get this other little one out of my head and my mind played tricks, thinking she may look like Polly, and that would be like having her back with me.

The grief was raw – no companion to sit upon my lap and cuddle beside me on the bed at night.

Through the continual tears I thought of the kitten no-one wanted, shut in a pen every day of her young life.

No– I could not possibly adopt her – how disloyal to even consider doing so.  Pollyangel would be hurt to think I had gotten over her so soon.

Throughout the conflicting thoughts and emotions, and in spite of them, I asked Cat Care to bring the little one to me so that we may try to connect.

She came so timid and afraid – I, so nervous and consumed with guilt.  A pretty young thing who immediately dashed under the sideboard and refused to come out.  The only thing to do was lie upon the floor, talk to her and hope she would eventually gain confidence and show herself.  She did, briefly, to eat and do a quick roll-over, before rushing back to her safe spot.

I liked her yet felt no affection – just disloyalty and grief.

Eventually I told myself I was not trying to replace Pollyangel, I was trying to give young Gracie a chance at life.

She slowly discovered confidence within herself to trust and to enjoy her days in play and sleep.

Disappointment set in as she disliked being picked up or cuddled – she still does, but there is now one consolation, at least once a day she closes her pretty green eyes, lifts up her face to mine and plants a big kiss upon my mouth.  Oh, yes, she’s BIG on kisses, is our Gracie – I wonder who taught her.

Two and a half years on, she has taken on an identity unique to only her and yes I do make comparisons still. Pollyangel was friendly, outgoing, loved company, whereas Grace has not overcome her timid streak and is afraid of people, and refuses to leave the room she has occupied since the day she arrived.

Not a day goes by when I do not remember Polly, and miss her.  I know it will always be this way – forever, but it doesn’t prevent me from loving baby Grace and allowing her a place within my heart.

Grace ~ 1 yr 6 mth old

 Your Letters ……

Trevor was very pleased with the kind people who responded over his distress to the loss of Trollie.  (See DF no. 41). He continues to miss her … It will be his 31st birthday on the 25th May.  He is busy selling his BIG ISSUE with Jack and sends you the enclosed photo should you wish to include it in the newsletter.

Lynn Burman 

 It’s coming up to that time of year again Jessie (See DF no. 32 – ed.) but every day is the same for me missing you and wishing you were here – missing you so much; you’re always with us and in our hearts.      Love mum and dad xx

Thank you so much for your kind thoughts when we lost Bobbie… Also thank you for putting Bobbie’s Tribute into your News Letter (no. 42), it is very nice of you.  I’ve read it and printed it out, it is so lovely and I enjoyed the poems, I loved them all especially Pussycat Heaven, really pulls at your heart strings.  Have been onto the website which is really lovely and to read some of the tributes that other people have written is wonderful…

Love Angie and Mick Bean x

 Many thanks for Departed Friend (no. 42) – What a lovely cat was Zoë.  I hope Di takes comfort from her lovely poem for Zoë. I can understand how Max’s owner feels his grief is still very raw.  I hope he takes a little comfort after writing his tribute to Max.   I have lost many cats, each one special in   their own way.  I am 77 years now but I still have 2 cats Susan (semi long fur dark tabby who was 14 years last November) Ellie (jet black almost 9 years) both from Cats Protection.

                                                                         Mrs M.C.


from Mrs M.C.

We were not too good at taking our cats’ photos, although someone once said to me you should take as many as possible because should something unforeseen happen, you will wish you had more photos of your pet.  I have had quite a few cats. One I will never forget was  a cat a previous neighbour asked me to home. I was asked if I would take on Tiggy in November and I agreed to look at her.  I heard no more until a rough and windy night January 3rd to be exact.

A knock at the front door and there was my ex- neighbour with a cat basket.  We took it in and there was the saddest sight I have ever seen; a young female dark tortie that should have been full of health and energy wanting so very much to be loved.  She was skin and bone and covered with scabs due, I was told, to a flea allergy.  We had her treated and checked at the vets but they could not cure the allergy.  We gave her food which she was too excited to eat.  It was just the fact someone was taking notice of her. One thing I noticed after she had been with us a while she never wanted to go outside.  My own personal opinion is she was shut outside because of her condition which was no fault of her own, yet someone took the trouble to have her spayed.  She survived cat flu but passed away aged 9 years of stomach cancer.  It was heartbreaking to lose our little treasure who had suffered so very much and passed away far too young. I will never forget that last heartbreaking day on September 5th 2005 at the vets.  I cried bitterly.  It didn’t seem fair that after such a poor start in life cancer took her from us.  “God Bless and Heal All Broken Hearts” until we all meet again.

I would also like to tell you about another cat I had in the past. She came from a lady 2 doors away who knew I wanted a ginger female kitten, so I had Jill, mainly ginger except for her white chest  and white on all 4 paws.  This was the year 1992. She grew up fast quite tall.  She was spayed quite young at about 6 months. Afterwards she lost some fur. She was vet checked but nothing wrong with her. If you sat   in  a  chair, she would drape herself across your shoulders.Another thing she did, if you were walking on the lawn or indoors she would jump on your back and never miss. I don’t know why she did this. I suppose it must have been her way of showing her love.As she reached 4 years I noticed her coat was quite thin and she had red blotches on her body in spite of flea treatment.  She cleaned herself constantly. She had to have steroids every 6 to 8 weeks which helped temporarily.  Gradually as she approached 11 years she got very quiet and would sleep on the stairs day and night, come downstairs, eat a small amount of food and have a drink and use her litter tray.  She got very thin, kept away from my other cats who I think sensed there was something wrong with her and didn’t go near her.Finally I could not allow her to stay like this and it was heartbreaking to watch her. She was put to sleep at just over 14 years. We did what we could for her but sad to say I wish with all my heart I could have done more.

  National Disgrace

The 2011 Grand National predictably saw the deaths of two beautiful horses in peak condition on the Aintree course. The eventual winner, Ballabriggs, was severely beaten in the final stages of the race; he was so exhausted and dehydrated that he required oxygen.  The winning jockey, Jason Maguire, has a record of beating horses.

There was a national outcry, following the accidental screening during the race of one of the corpses, covered by a tarpaulin.  One horse died of a broken neck, the other suffered a broken back.

You can honour their memories and make sure they (and the 400+ horses who are raced to death every year) have not died in vain, by not betting on horse (or greyhound) racing and by getting involved in the campaign to Ban the Grand National. 

 Animal Aid has produced a hard-hitting and comprehensive information pack, which gives the grim facts behind the horseracing industry.  You can get the pack from Animal Aid: Tel +44 (0)1732 364546 or email   There is a petition, and suggested letters to write to your local paper and Member of Parliament.  The Grand National is deliberately hazardous – it should be banned.

RIP Ornais and Dooneys Gate – killed on 9 April 2011 by the greed of humankind.

Departed Friend Newsletter no. 42 March 2011


Dear Readers

My dog Max, a golden Labrador, died three months ago.  I still miss him very much.  I cannot bear to be without him.  I was going to purchase another dog but I cannot bear the thought of losing another dog.

Max used to love his walks outside with me.  He used to love playing around in the garden in the snow, and running backwards and forwards with his toy chicken.  He loved his massages and putting his nose in the shopping bags after I had returned home from the shops, just to see if there was anything in there for him.  And he was so loving towards people.  He also got lots of love from me.

Well this is my tribute to Max, my beautiful dog.  I’ll always miss him.

God bless all animal lovers.

Tony Gillham


Pussycat Heaven

I’d like to go to pussycat heaven when I die,

To pussycat heaven where pussycat angels fly,

Where there’s milk by the gallon

At the twitch of a talon…

And the trees all grow fish!, what a tasty yummy dish!

I will learn to purrrr and mioaw……

furry purrry pussycats will teach me how,

We’ll discuss the puss philosophy,

Whilst dining on the best French brie,

And every night to our hearts delight

we’ll howl and yowl at the moon so bright,

Then pussycat angels on pussycat harps

Will accompany us as we sing to the stars.

And, when the sun creeps out of bed

still yawning and half asleep…

We’ll pounce all over his pillowy clouds

‘Cos we like to play ‘hide and seek’,

So, when you see the clouds above

Skitter fast across the blue,

You’ll know we pussycats are having such fun,

Playing ‘catch tail and peek-a-boo’

But, because we’re pussycat ANGELS…

We’ll tidy up the clouds,

We’ll hang them artistically in the sky

feeling very smug and proud!

So, when all is ready for the sun to shine,

We’ll twitch our whiskers (which are quite sublime),

And very soon we will all agree… it’s definitely time for lunch…and …tea!

So off we’ll trot with tails held high

In our shiny fur coats and our bright happy eyes,

Then what a feast, ‘oh glory me,

with cakes and fish and Cornish cream teas…!!

“Aaaaah”, so when our furry tummies are full

with all our favourite foods,

We’ll wash our faces, clean our paws

then have a nice long snooze…zzzzzzz!

And, so I guess you can easily see….

Why, I’d like to go to pussycat heaven when I die,

To pussycat heaven…where pussycat angels fly…!

Copyright (reprinted here with permission)

Paulette A. Ng  –  1999



Shadow darker than shadow,

You are here there and everywhere,

Shining bright, blacker than the blackest night,

All claws and teeth

Little fierce one!

Yet, you rest a gentle paw upon my cheek

Keeping perfect time with my heartbeat,

In movement, now still.

Always, the perfection of unconditional love,

I hold you safe in my heart,

and grieve for you mybabyiest little girl.

Paulette Ng 





   Your letters …… 

 It’s 11 or 12 years since I lost my last Poodle, the only one left after 38 years of Poodles. I will be 91 years this March.  I could not expect to own a dog now, but it’s hard.  I love the new style of DF and the stories of the puppy “Trollie” dumped in a supermarket trolley.  What a kind man to save and keep her and Nowzad Dogs and Pen Farthing – all these people and those who have lost a family pet are also helped by yourself printing these stories. (DF41) You do a wonderful act of kindness to all that write in about their pets and those who read and know there are still people who understand animals are not just there to be thrown out when it suits the owner.

Gladys Radwell

I wept as I read the piece about Dear Trollie (DF 41) and my heart went out to the gentleman who owned her, Trevor. I hope Trevor will find a new companion one day which will bring him comfort and joy once again as Ty-Son has brought me.  Christmas was sad without Tace but Ty-son more than helped fill the sadness.  It was like Tace was saying: ‘It’s Ty-son’s turn now to enjoy the 7 Christmases I had with you, but I will still watch.’  I nursed both hers and Shelly’s casket on Christmas morn for a few moments.  I felt I had to.  Shelly left us 9 years tomorrow 28th.  But I will never forget that day I lost by baby, she was 13 years plus, but I still love and miss her.

(I wrote to Kath and told her that Trevor now has a new puppy, Jack, and she responded as follows):

I have thought about this gentleman a lot and know the pain he’s in with the loss of Dear Trollie.  I’m so pleased he has a new puppy Jack.  I’m sure Jack will give him comfort and will know the pain he’s in with Trollie’s loss as I’m sure Ty-son knows I miss my Tace so so much.  I still cry as I write this for her … Tace helped me more than words could ever express.  I love Ty-son to bits also.  Please pass on my best wishes to Trevor; he’s not alone and I hope he’s feeling better God Bless him.

Kath Greenslade

Thank you so much for the beautiful e-card – Sammie is the image of my cat – isn’t she gorgeous.

Thank you also for the regular newsletters you send, I think you do a marvellous job in celebrating the lives of such wonderful friends.

With all best wishes for Christmas and the New Year, keep up your brilliant work. Kind regards

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

Thank you so much for your lovely greeting card. Also for all the work you put into your newsletters. They are a tremendous source of comfort to all who have lost a dear friend.

Love, CK, Anne & birdies (12 of them) 


WOODY ~ my Cameo Persian

30.04.1992 to 13.12.2010

 I had to say goodbye to Woody, my last pet, on Dec 13th 2010.  He stopped eating.  He had kidney failure for 4 years and arthritis developed recently.  He lost a lot of weight, to mostly bone and had injections to keep him going.

Woody and my 2 other Persian cats were the first registered PAT* cats.  I took Woody to special needs classes.  He has always been so ‘laid back’ and affectionate, and has never ‘lashed out’.  He had a very loud ‘motor’ purr.  I have his ashes in a Bronze cat, which gives me comfort, and have had a service for him using Linda Bodicoat’s book ‘Return to the Fold’, which I highly recommend.

Lois Wood


*PAT – Pets as Therapy – is a unique national charity which provides temperament-assessed/vaccinated P.A.T. Dogs and P.A.T. Cats with registered volunteers to hospitals, hospices, residential care homes, day centres, special needs schools and many other establishments, providing comfort, companionship and therapy. There are approximately 4,500 P.A.T. Dogs and 108 P.A.T. Cats bringing benefit to more than 130,000 people of all ages every single week throughout the UK.  



I lay awake restrained from weep

I shared with five – no room to sleep

It gave my eyes the time to stare

My fortune – it was lying there

Amidst the duvet round my feet

For space to rest we all compete

To share with creatures through the night

Has its rewards – though room is tight

They seem to want to sleep with me

I’m honoured to a great degree

I see five tails and twenty paws

And it makes me think of those ‘Human Laws’

“They shouldn’t be on a human’s bed

Their place is out in a kennel instead”

Not long ago they were hungry and cowered

But when they awake there’s more love to be showered

With speech like ours what tales would they tell?

‘Human Kindness’ a term they’d surely dispel

Whatever else happens I know that I –

Will love them and keep them safe till I die

The light has come and I’ve spent the dark

Reflecting on beings too tired to bark

Gerry Robinson (1998)





In memory of our beloved Jamie

07.07.1994 – 15.01.2011


~ Caroline  ~

Momo (pts to prevent further suffering)

“she was a unique little character

and we had only such a short time together”

Please accept our deepest sympathy in your loss



It is the profound desire of many people to be buried with their beloved companion animals – and now this wish can become reality:

The Orchard Pet Cemetery is a green, natural or eco burial site set in gentle Lincolnshire countryside, at Stainton by Langworth, near Lincoln, LN3 5BN.

The cemetery is part of the 4 acre Orchard Burial Ground. It is uniquely licensed for the burial of pets and people, giving pet lovers the opportunity to have their pets buried with or alongside them. The site contains over 200 woodland and orchard trees, and a meadow. In time more trees will be planted, many as memorials to loved ones. It is a beautiful resting place, and also for visiting and reflection.

The Orchard also offers home burial (for those unwilling or unable to dig a plot themselves), the burial of cremated ashes and a funeral service – which children can attend.  Transport from home or vets to the cemetery can be arranged.  Coffins, shrouds, memorial trees and headstones are available.

There is a 50% discount for burial of working dogs (Guide Dogs and Police Dogs).

There is bereavement counselling for those who want it, either with Orchard’s own staff or by referral to other agencies.

Orchard also offer another remarkable service: an Education Pack for schools, and an experienced teacher who will work with children to explore death, loss and grieving.  The death of a family pet can be a devastating experience for a child – and this excellent resource will surely bring comfort to children in their time of sorrow as well as making both classmates and teachers aware of how painful this loss can be.  It will also help shape attitudes for the future, so that maybe the next generation will treat this special bereavement with compassion and understanding – bringing the day closer when people will no longer have to suffer the anguish caused by callous and unthinking remarks like “It was only a dog…”

Contact details:

Paul Disley, 31 Hawthorn Road, Cherry Willingham, Lincoln. LN3 4JU

Tel: 01522 754 154


Grateful thanks to Lynn Burman for telling me about the Orchard Pet Cemetery – ed.


STRANGE BUT TRUE ~ a message of hope?

I planted snowdrops near Eric’s grave when he died. They have flowered every year.  There was no sign of them this year and I was concerned in case they had died. As his third anniversary approached, I thought: “Wouldn’t it be lovely if they showed themselves on the day” ~ but this seemed very unlikely as, whenever I checked, there was no sign. I looked the day before and saw only bare earth. That evening, I was listening to music and thinking of Eric, trying to let him know we didn’t abandon him; we simply hadn’t realised that, when we left him at the vets for X-rays under anaesthetic, it was the last time we would see him alive. (See DF30 for Eric’s tribute). I got a warm comforting feeling that seemed to be Eric telling me that he does indeed realise we didn’t abandon him.

Then the miracle happened.  When I checked the garden next morning, this is what I saw: One lone snowdrop just to the left of his plaque ~ complete with leaves and flower!


 Picture taken 13.02.2011

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.”

Departed Friend Newsletter No. 40 Sept 2010

Tribute to TINKA 


I became owned by a beautiful black and white cat we called Tinka who we chose from the Blue Cross at Kimpton in 1996.  We saw him when he was very small and were allowed to adopt him and bring him home when he was 9 weeks old.

He was feisty and funny right from the beginning and chose where he sat during the day and where he spent the night, ignoring beanbags, boxes and fluffy blankets for armchairs and my bed!

He was very loving and affectionate but also very independent. He loved his food and would shout loudly if I took too long in getting his dish on the floor. He ate everything he was given and was convinced that every tin he heard being opened contained tuna.

I could write pages about ‘my boy’ but I will tell you about two occurrences when I think he showed his devotion to me in spectacular ways. On 22nd December 2007 I was in bed, not asleep at 1.15am and became aware that Tinka was racing up and down the stairs, making a peculiar wailing noise.      I got up just as he jumped down from the back bedroom windowsill and raced downstairs again, probably to look out the conservatory door. Suspecting a fox or even an intruder in the garden, I had a look out the window to see my car on fire in the drive. Had he not warned me in time, the petrol tank may have exploded, causing much damage to fences and windows etc. all around.

The second episode was rather more amusing.  I was in bed, again, and awoke suddenly at about 3.00am, remembering that I hadn’t padlocked my inner garden gate. I went downstairs to do this, closely followed by the boy. I went quickly down the garden path in just my nightie (it was a very warm night). When I got back in the house, Tinka was staring through the glass door and when I came into view he went rigid, back up, tail huge and wouldn’t let me in. Remembering the time of night, I whispered to him to let me in, but he opened his mouth and hissed at me loudly. I keep a broom near the back door, so I got it through the small gap he allowed me to open and managed to ease him away. He immediately attacked the bristles with all four paws and his teeth but I was eventually able to push him along enough to get in. I then was able to speak to him in my normal voice whereupon he changed completely, just walked away with his tail bolt upright and began to eat his biscuits. He obviously didn’t recognize this strangely dressed vision with a funny voice and intended to defend his mum’s house.

I lost my boy to hyperthyroidism and liver problems in February this year. We had tried everything we could to make him better since the previous July but it wasn’t to be. He was nearly 14 when he died and I would like those years all over again. Since my husband died 5 years ago, Tinka stayed even closer to me and was always a loving friend and companion. I miss him more than I can say. He was very, very special and I will hold him in my heart for ever. I have had a number of cats in my three score years and ten but losing Tinka has affected me very deeply for some reason and I felt compelled to put my thoughts and feelings into words.


Pauline West ~ July 2010

These are two remarkable examples of a devoted friend saving his human companion from danger or worse. Do you have any similar stories involving your own animals?  If so, we would be interested to hear of them and print them in a subsequent edition of the newsletter.  Ed.

The British Association of Pet Bereavement Counsellors  

BAPBC was launched in June 2010 as a professional membership organisation for all professionals working with bereaved pet owners, including: counsellors, veterinary nurses, vets, helpline staff, rehoming oganisation staff, pet charities, organisations and societies.

The Director, Revd. George Callander, was a third year student nurse when his mother phoned to tell him their two poodles had died within a few days of each other. “I remember being so desolate that I let out a cry in the nurses’ home that echoed all round the corridor. People came out and said they thought I’d been electrocuted or cut myself to the bone,” he remembers.

“They said, ‘what’s wrong?’ and I said, ‘my dogs are dead’. That’s when I got, ‘is that all?’.

And I vowed I would never say, ‘is that all?’.”

He is now a pet bereavement counsellor and, as an ordained minister, he also conducts animal funerals.

 “I’m a devoted cat lover and have had pets most of my life, but am aware that people, when their pets die, don’t feel able to talk about it because they feel people will think they’re silly or simply don’t know who to talk to,” he says.

The association aims to be a focal point for counsellors specialising in pet bereavement, as well as vets and veterinary nurses. “What I’m trying to do is raise awareness of pet bereavement, to make owners understand there’s somewhere they can turn to and people who understand,” he says.

He is also starting a support group in Durham as a pilot project which, if successful, will be introduced across the country. He sees it as social gathering – conversation therapy he calls it – for pet owners who’ve lost animals recently or in the past. “I know people who still grieve for their dog 20 years after they had to have it put to sleep and have never been able to talk about it,” he says. Anyone interested in joining the support group can call George on 0845-4672201 or email

He wants to raise the profile of pet bereavement, pointing out that with a growing number of pet crematoria – there are two in the area where he lives – the demand for support is growing. “As a minister, I’ve conducted a number of pet funerals – it’s a very important area,” he says. “I freely acknowledge as a counsellor and as a minister, and as a nurse and a pet owner, how important pets are to us. You’ve got to appreciate that for some people, particularly the elderly, their cat, dog, budgie or whatever, is the only other living thing they have regular contact with. So, the sense of loss when that animal dies is overwhelming. It can be just as real and as powerful as if a spouse or family member died.”

He recalls conducting a funeral for a family whose ageing Alsatian had to be put to sleep. “We buried him in the garden, it was a lovely ceremony and I should stress I don’t use the same form of service as for humans. There are some animal readings, prayers of thanksgiving for the animal’s life, the place they had in the family, and so on. They wrapped him in his favourite duvet and buried him in the garden. Each member of the family placed one of his favourite things in the grave. He had his feeding bowl, his rubber bone, his leash and they actually found it was a way of symbolically casting off their grief.”

He’s also buried a goldfish (“for a small child who was desolate and her father said would I do a little something”) and guinea pigs.

“I feel I should take my special expertise and reach out to these people. I think they soon realise I really do understand and their grief is just as valid as if their Auntie Ada had died.”

He acknowledges that some people seem more upset by the death of an animal than a person. Working as an accident and emergency nurse, he became used to seeing horrific injuries. “People with legs hanging off and so forth, it was part of my job, but if I saw an injured dog in the street I would go to pieces.”

“Human bereavement and pet bereavement are very difficult, very sad, very complex. Nothing gives me greater satisfaction than when somebody says to me afterwards ‘I wouldn’t have got through this difficult time without you and all you’ve done’,” he says.

Information from The Northern Echo 22 July 2010 and


58 Esh Wood View

Ushaw Moor



Telephone: 0191 373 9220

Office generally attended Monday – Friday 10am – 2pm

(voicemail at other times)



I am very grateful to Angela Garner of EASE* (Environmental Animal Sanctuary and Education) for telling me about BAPBC and encouraging me to apply for membership.  I am sure that this pioneering organisation will be of great help and benefit not only to its members but to many bereaved members of the public as well. Ed.

*(See DF no. 36 Sept 2009 and DF no. 37 Dec 2009 for further information about EASE, or visit



A special little boy who I will never forget

Both Isabel, our vet, and myself feel that Lagun came here for a reason.  It is not clear to me yet what that reason is but I feel very strongly about this feeling.   He has left me a feeling that I can’t quite describe at the moment.   Isabel said from the beginning that he was a special dog.   He had so much trust in us even though I had put him through so much pain.   His operation took over 4 hours and Ariel worked so hard to help him….. 

Lagun was put in that horrible council pound because he was ill.    He was left alone after he had probably given all his affection to the person who let him down at the end.    Well he will not be left alone now.    He is going to be cremated and will be here with Shep and Meg.

 I wish this had been a different e-mail where I could have told you all how wonderful things were going.  I guess you do not have to be with someone for years to bond because in just two weeks I felt Lagun had been here so much longer.

On Wednesday when Ariel came to see him and put the food line in he saw there was an  infection.   He cleaned it out and I thought things would get better.    On Wednesday night while Isabel was examining him she said he had another infection and that looking at the tissue nearby she thought it looked as though the cancer was already coming back.   Ariel had said it was an aggressive one.

Yesterday was a very hard day for me.  Lagun had been at Isabel’s practice overnight because he had the feeding tube put in and as she wanted to see him the next morning we decided it would be less stress if he stayed there overnight.   

When I went back yesterday Isabel had fed him and she had taken him for a little walk and he seemed stronger.  Before I took him home I had all the instructions how to feed him.  By the time I got home it was time to feed him and the first 3/4 of an hour was very difficult as I did not get the hang of it.   I even called her and asked her to call in on her way home.   Within the next 15 minutes I realised what I was doing wrong and from then on it was OK.
This had all been done in the bathroom as this was where Lagun felt comfortable.    The trouble was that I felt something was wrong because he did not come out of the bathroom.   Last time he stayed in there for a short time and then came out, went up to the kitchen and even came to lay down beside me at the computer.  This time each time I went in he was laying on the floor near his water bowl.  Something inside me told there was something wrong.
A little later when I went in I could see red in his water bowl and some fresh blood on the floor.   I called Isabel and it was about 10pm when we took him to the surgery.   

For all of us who have or have had pets will probably have been in the situation where you feel you are playing god.   You do not want to give in but you want the best for your companion.   Isabel and I cried together.   She understanding me and me understanding her.   He had an infection the other day when Ariel, the surgeon came to see him, he cleaned it and put a drain in but last night Isabel said there was another infection.

 I looked in Lagun’s eyes and asked him to tell me what to do.    His eyes seemed to tell me he was tired.   All I could think about was how he would walk next to me in the garden while I watered the grass.   From the day he stepped out of the van and saw me he seemed to know I wanted to help him.   He followed me everywhere and here we were 2 weeks later and I had to do what was best.   I know that the last person he saw on his way to Rainbow Bridge was me.   He looked peaceful while we kissed goodbye and I told him even though it was just 2 weeks I loved him.    I told him there would be plenty of friends waiting for him over Rainbow Bridge and I hope Shep would be at the front!

I went into the garden a few minutes ago and it felt so empty.    Lagun’s little red ‘tent’ is sitting there with the duvet inside but he is not coming back.  Tonight when I water the garden there will be no one to follow me and all I can see in front of me is his face in the first photo I saw of him.   All that was being asked for him was a ‘sofa’ to make his last days in the pound comfortable.    How could I leave him there?  

Sharon, how many times have we said to each other that our lives would be so much easier if we did not love animals?   

 Maureen xxxxx




  DF stall – Bedford Charity Market  –  18 and 26 June 2010



Your letters ……

 Hi, I am writing about the poem “Goodbye Stan” which was on your blog in Sept 09. (See DF no. 36, ed.)

Well, I have been searching for the poem for about 30 years since I was about 8 years old.

My family and I have always had many animal friends and I always remember my mother had an old copy of “SHE” magazine (UK edition) from which she clipped out an entry into a poetry contest which was “Goodbye Stan”. The clipping was sadly lost but I remember that the author was a man and he had written the poem about his own cat who he had recently lost; Stan.

Over the years, whenever one of our beloved animals has died, either by accident or illness we have always referred to this poem; I googled it by the lines and snippets I could remember.

I am so very happy to have found it and will now copy it safely. My renewed search was prompted because one week ago we had to have our darling 13 year old Poppy dog put to sleep because of heart failure. As I laid her to rest in our olive grove (we live on the island of Crete) I said part of this poem.

Now I have it all. Thank you so very much.

Leonie Giddings

Hi Debby

Thank you very much for the latest “Departed Friend”. I always look forward to receiving my copy. Love the Arial font, it’s sharper and the colour pics are super… I’ve enclosed a few stamps to help with postage costs.

Helen W.


I ordered Jane Matthews’ ‘Losing a Pet’ book directly from – recommend it – if you put re books to help people on the site.

Fiona C.

Fiona – thanks for this useful information. I got a copy of the book on your recommendation and was most impressed.  Here is my review:


Losing a Pet  –  by Jane Matthews  

 This small book is a valuable resource, written in down to earth compassionate terms that everyone will be able to relate to. It is divided into 5 chapters with a Resources section at the end, interspersed with delightful photographs of people with their pets – from horses to hamsters.

 1. Living with a pet sets the scene with personal anecdotes of love and loss, to comfort and reassure the bereaved reader that they are not alone and their feelings are perfectly normal.

2. When a pet dies outlines some of the difficulties people may face as this kind of loss is still not fully recognised, though it may impact on us as much as the loss of a human; however, things are slowly improving as this special grief becomes better understood.  Possible feelings and reactions are also described with suggestions about talking it through.  Particularly helpful is the reminder that you don’t have to explain if you don’t want to: ‘Saying you’ve suffered a bereavement but feel unable to talk about it is usually enough to stave off enquiries from people who you suspect won’t understand.’

3. Living through loss prepares the bereaved person for some of the emotions they may experience with the unpredictability of a roller coaster.  Suggestions for healing are given, with information on the stages of loss.

4. Practicalities deals with the arrangements you may wish to make for your pet, such as burial or cremation, and commemoration/celebration by means of pet memorials and tributes.

5. Life after loss outlines progression from the first stage of almost unbearable pain to the occasional heartache and the possibility of maybe investing love in another animal if/when the time right. There is wise counsel to seek professional advice for those who find themselves often in tears after a few months.

Resources include counselling agencies, cemeteries/ crematoria, as well as suitable poetry and readings.

 It is well worth the £2.99 I paid to buy it on-line.

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