A Special Love & a Giveaway....

I saw a photo this morning that really affected me. It showed an elderly woman in a hospital bed...clearly very ill and reportedly close to death...but her face was very calm and beautiful and she had one hand resting on the curled up form of a gorgeous ginger cat. Apparently the hospital had allowed her to share her last hours with her beloved friend, and the result was clear to see. It brought tears to my eyes and really made me think about the wonderful richness that the love between humans and their pets brings to life.
We were brought up with dogs in our home, and we were so fond of them...but they were family dogs, shared by us all, and it was our Mum who had the responsibility of feeding and walking them - we were really too young. It wasn't until we moved to the farm and had plenty of room that we were each allowed a rescued puppy of our very own to care for....

Of course, my beloved Poppet is just a memory now...but she lived for almost 19 years and shared so much of my life...helped me through so many formative experiences...her fur was often damp when I cried over early heartbreaks with my face buried in her softness! Leaving her to go to university was harder than leaving the rest of the family...at least I could still talk to them and they knew why and where I was going. But I always came back to her,and when I eventually left home for good she was with me. Our lives were entwined...as my life broadened out and I began working,I had be careful to take her into account and adjust my routine around hers...but she gave me so much in return. I owned cats, too...always rescued...two at a time, older ones that no one else seemed to want. They lived out the rest of their months or years with us, surrounded by warmth, love and the care they needed. At times when the rest of my life seemed to be falling apart, they were always a comfort, always so happy to see me....and always a reason to keep going, to get outside for that walk, to get up in the morning even when it felt so difficult.
Of course, one cold November day after being at my side for over half my life...Poppet was gone. It was time. Her beautiful dark eyes were clouded, her muzzle grizzled and she felt so frail and small where she had once been strong,lean and confident...but it took me a long, long time to get over her.
There have been many poems written about the very real grief of losing a dearly loved dog. This is one of my favourites...and it always brings tears!

" Goodbye. May he who next shall own
My garden spare this tiny stone
That marks the spot where, trouble-free,
You sleep (and dream, perchance, of me).
I hope he will; yet wherefore fret?
We could not, if we would, forget
Each other. When, in turn, the dark
Shall glaze my eyes, your joyous bark
Will greet me, echoing to the sky.
Till then, dear loving heart, goodbye..."

And I tried to remember that, I really did...until this little scruff captured our hearts! How could we resist? And now we wonder how we ever lived without her..

Before and after her recent haircut!
Caring for an animal...any animal...can add so much to a life, I believe. It's also a huge responsibility. Alice thinks that she is very big & powerful! But, in reality of course she, like every animal, holds no real power at all. She is entirely vulnerable to the whims of humans. Completely reliant on us for food, for water, for exercise...that is what people have done in domesticating creatures. Alice is one of the many lucky ones...she can take all these things for granted, and know that she is safe and so loved. And we are, of course,so lucky too!

And now to that promised giveaway...
I've tried to find some things that are different, and lovely...I hope I've succeeded!
Firstly, I have this beautiful presentation pack of the new Jane Austen postage stamps...

There are six in all, each is a watercolour representing one of her novels...

Difficult to show you in detail! But limited edition and quite perfect, I think. To go with them, I picked a special mug that's been made for Comic Relief...also known as Red Nose Day,which takes place here on March 15th.This is a charity event held bi-annually in the UK, raising millions for all sorts of good causes...with a comedy theme...

hence the quote! There are different souvenirs each time, so this is only available in 2013...and will hopefully brighten someone's kitchen!
I'll send these, together with a paperback edition of Pride and Prejudice, which celebrates 200 years in publication this year...

to the name that I draw a week from today- Monday 18th March. All you have to do to enter is to leave me a comment on this post...I'll send it anywhere, so you can enter whether you're in Boston, Lincolnshire or Boston, Massachusetts...or even further away! You all mean so much to me!

Hope you have a wonderful week...good luck! Xoxo


  1. oh gosh, you have made me cry!

    I'm a cat person, and I have had my heart smashed to smithereens every time I've lost one. It does not get easier. Ever. And reading that the lady was allowed to have her pet beside her in her final hours - well, that's done it. My mascara is all over the place. Breaks my heart and makes me smile.
    I just hope the cat is ok, and has a good home now.

    Thought my cat Dudley was going to die a couple of weeks ago, he had 'toilet troubles' that turned out to be cystitis (had no idea cats could even get it), thankfully he is now fine, but oh my, the worry and tears. I am not ready to say goodbye to him,he has got to stick around forever. We are such good pals, I can even tell when he wants to play chase, then we run up and down the stairs for a while, until he goes big and puffy and freaks me out! ha ha! Honestly. We've done this since he was a kitten.

    thank you for this post. I love it. And you are so right, pets are such special little characters, they leave pawprints on our hearts forever.

    Fabulous giveaway, count me in! ;o)

  2. Oh Rachel! What a heartwarming blog today about your beloved sweet pets! Such joy they DO bring to our lives! I can see that they were/are both very loved and happy! Thank you for sharing that today and bringing a smile to our faces! I'm always very happy to see pics of your sweet Alice! xo (KarenPgbwi)

  3. I love this post! My husband has his little dachsie's tattooed around and around his arm- his beloved Sabie still on his mind even after all these years. We still have her leash and bowl in a box of "memories." My stepfather is a big tough New York cop and to this day he still leaves lovey-dovey voice mails for his Cookie whenever he is away from home (even just at the office!) He sat on the floor and held Max until he finally passed at age 16. Animals hold such a special place in all of our hearts. I like cats and dogs and we currently have two fur balls sharing our home. What a great post!

  4. Kindred souls are we, sharing our love for animal pets, gorgeous books and clever mugs for tea! The stamps will bring joy to any philatelist! Too pretty to use. What a beautiful story of the pet owner & her cat companion~and yet so sad that the poor cat doesn't understand why it has been left behind... :-( My sister and her family have just adopted a puppy, as their Scottish born golden retriever, Archie, succumbed to cancer last week~making room for someone new to love. xo

  5. Dear Rachel,
    My Dad is in his 80's and has lost so many people who are dear to him, but I think that the loss of his beloved "Brandi" his Boston Terrier last year was a hard loss indeed.

    I love your giveaway, the stamps, the book and the mug...oh, I can't tell you how much I would love to win! You know I do have an English heart, after all!!

  6. Oh Alice so adorable! My mum never understood why I wanted pet animals. I want to have a cat.

  7. Dear Far away Close in heart friend, what a beautiful post of love for our 4 legged family members! My Mopsey (yes...named for one of the famous rabbits) was my pride and joy puppy, keeping me company and giving me JOY. She will always hold a space in my heart. She now has her own garden complete with a tiny "gone but not forgotten" stepping stone. Thank You for your poem which speaks volumes.

    You are a blessing! Alice has a wonderful Mum!
    xoxo Georgie

  8. Dearest Rachel,

    This is not the first time I hear you speak of your dear Poppet. I did not know much about her before now. Your words convey the deep bond you had with her...they brought tears to my eyes. I have never owned a dog, but can understand the bond between human and pet. My cat, Buddy, was my first baby. He is 14 years old now. I have a deep, unconditional love for him - and he for me. I don't even want to think of life without him. I always tell him, "don't you ever leave me" and I make sure to tell him how much I love him...at least once a day!

    I must say, I don't think anyone could resist little Alice. She is just TOO cute! May she bless you with many, many years of happiness. She is one lucky girl! xoxo

  9. To my dear sister, what a lovely lovely post that had me of course in tears. You are so right about our responsibilities and duties as loving dog carers, as you know we lost our darling Bim in November, still such a loss to us all, but we were very grateful to have her bumptious company for thirteen years. Beautiful stamps, and I love the mug, reminds me to 'get the guitar'...Love always xxxxx
    ps don't put my name in the hat! xxx

  10. I'm sorry for your loss.

  11. Judy from Maine, USA12 March 2013 at 14:01

    Your entry today is just beautiful. Of course, I am a dog person too, and it hit a nerve. I lost my first dog 10 years ago now and I still miss her so much. We do have two dogs now, that we love just as much, but there was something very special about Abby... maybe because she was my first.
    All the giveaways are terrific, but the mug is my favorite... it just makes you laugh!

  12. Thank you for these sweet reflections. I am so glad to have discovered you through Susan Branch :) My 15 year old Shih Tzu, Chloe, is in excellent health and I am so thankful that she's vibrant senior citizen! The Jane Austen stamps are so lovely. Sending a hug to you and Alice.

  13. A nice tribute to sweet dogs. I still get sad over the loss of my dogs.
    Thank you for the chance to win your generous and fun giveaway. Love the mug.

  14. Still miss my little black poodle that brought
    us years of joy.
    Love your poem and Alice is darling.

  15. How good it is to read this post. We've a 21-yr old (next month) cat. We gave no thought that he would be with us these many years! This is an excellent tribute to our pets.

    You always come up with the nicest giveaways, Rachel. Anything with Jane Austen is incomparable!

    I send along wishes for a beautiful spring!

    xo Nellie

  16. I have cherished each one of my pet children. They all brought joy, laughter and love into my life. They gave comfort, care, warmth and so much more each day I was blessed to share with them. I do not think I would have made it through so many trials and tribulations without their companionship. The last 6 years my beloved Kala kitty has helped me to get through the difficulties of dealing with my husband's frontal lobe dementia, and when my husband died Nov. 10th 2012, she was there to allow me to cry into her fur, to cuddle to me as I began a change in my life. I am so thankful each day for the gifts she gives me.

  17. And I must add to my previous post--those of us who are fortunate to have the love of a pet child are truly blessed.

  18. I would love to win the wonderful things! And your Alice is a darling doggie.

  19. Rachel, lovely post. The fur-babies at our house are two Siamese cats - 13 & 14 years old. They're such a part of our empty-nest that, although their behavior can be taxing at times, life without them would be altered dramatically. As they age along with us, it's painful to realize they, too, have their own 'issues' to cope with.

    Would be thrilled to receive your generous giveaway! Darling Susan has me captivated with all things British; I can't seem to get enough! (So excited about her book, A Fine Romance). Thank you for entering my name in your drawing.

    Sharon in Alabama (USA)

  20. Dearest Rachel,

    Alice is just precious before AND after her haircut!!!! Ahhhh, how I know the love of a pet. They give us so much and expect so little. What a loving post and a tribute to those little hearts in our lives who give us so much joy!!!!



  21. Hi honey! I always feel guilty if I'm late with my kitties' dinner ... They have no hands! Otherwise they would get it for themselves! Loved your story ... what would we do without our petty pets. xoxo

  22. Rachel, that was wonderful! Thank you -- how would we live without our pets, we are so lucky! Love you dear xoxo

  23. We, too, have always had two cats at a time. And at least one special dog in the neighborhood has always been our guardian angel. Living in the country now, we have dog biscuits for the occasional stray that wanders through. I will share that lovely poem with a co-worker whose recent loss of her oldest, four-legged companion has been heartbreaking. What a treasure those stamps are – tiny, precious works of watercolor art. Your give-away items, Rachel, are the perfect mix for a kindred spirit!

  24. Hello Rachel,
    I just found your blog and look forward to visiting more. I am sorry for the loss of Poppet, what a cutie! That poem brought tears to my eyes as we just lost our beloved girl of 13 two and a half weeks ago. However we have opened our hearts to a new pup Cookie which is already bringing us so much joy, as I am sure sweet Alice has with you :)

    I would love if you would enter me in your wonderful giveaway.
    Thank you and have a blessed weekend!
    tirzahgirl (at) gmail (dot) com

  25. I enjoy your blog....was just reading Susans blog and saw a beautiful picture of you and your Poppet......the love of a animal is pure.....

  26. Thank you so much for the lovely, sweet thoughts on dogs. We have two Westies, Ned and Whittaker and they are like our children-we love them to pieces!! So enjoy getting your blog in my email. Janice

  27. Thank you for such a lovely blog


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