Any pet parent will tell you that one of the worst days in their life (or the thought of it happening) is directly related to the loss of a pet. It’s something that people without pets struggle to fully appreciate – “They’re only animals…”, some say.

I personally have started suffering in antecipation, dreading the day the inevitable happens… So I can only begin to imagine the pain.

There are mechanisms which do not replace a lost pet but help heal the pain. In her new book, Susan Stennett reveals how she did just that.

Welcome to our November DogBlog!

Susan Stennett – Businesswoman and Published writer

Raven’s Pandemic Tails and the Special One

At the beginning of September, I began selling my book, Raven’s Pandemic Tails. It’s become a mission for me to make this book a success, and I’m using this DogBlog to promote it. However, before I can do that, it’s necessary to go back in time, to September 2011, when the real story behind the book began…….

Certain days in one’s life are so momentous they become engraved forever, the most powerful of memories. I remember happy days with great clarity. My wedding, for instance, is one such memory, as are the births of my two sons. I also remember the saddest of days, one of the most poignant of these being 27th January 2020. That was the day that my first ‘fur child’, my beautiful black Labrador Pilot, fell asleep in my arms for the last time. He was a dog I never really wanted, but out of that initial indifference grew a love that still amazes me with its strength and intensity.

Pilot was bought as an eight week old puppy for my eldest son Rowan. He had been asking for years if he could have a dog. My answer was always, “I don’t like dogs Rowan; we are cat people”. When Rowan asked again at the beginning of 2011, the word “yes” inexplicably slipped out of my mouth. I don’t know who was more surprised, me or Rowan! In a moment of weakness, I had agreed to the one thing I had always resisted. I did lots of research, found a lovely family with a bitch who was having a litter, and the deal was done. When I collected that cute, chubby puppy in September 2011, my intention was to have as little as possible to do with him. At that point, I honestly believed that all Pilot would bring me was extra work, and the sofa would never be free of dog hair again. That first night, he looked at me with his beautiful, light amber coloured eyes, licked my hand and snuggled next to me. But, of course, I still didn’t want him and wasn’t going to be seduced! I’d say it took about six weeks before I fell totally under Pilot’s spell, and he became MY dog.

Unwittingly and completely unintentionally, I started to bond with him. During those first weeks, we fell into a routine. In the mornings I would tackle the housework, then, just before lunch, Pilot would sit on my lap (a habit that continued for the rest of his life) and we would watch old episodes of ‘The Professionals’ together. In the afternoons I would take him out in the car, to get him used to travelling. My resolve to have as little as possible to do with him flew out of the window, and I became his devoted mistress. In return, he taught me the true meaning of unconditional love. He was my constant companion, my shadow, my joy. However, he was never a very robust dog. He had one illness after another, and at the beginning of 2020, aged just eight years, he developed a serious lung condition, probably cancer, and we had to make the heartbreaking decision to put him to sleep. I had been won round by a handsome black Labrador who took a piece of my heart with him when he went. He was, quite simply, a hero from start to finish, the doggy love of my life. I knew at his passing that I could never love another dog the way I had loved him.

But life goes on. When Pilot was five, we had bought another labrador, a yellow bitch called Scout. After Pilot died, our immediate concern was for her. She had never been on her own, and we wanted to provide her with a doggy companion as quickly as possible. Of course, I said I could never have another black male Labrador, because of my dear Pilot, but circumstances led us to a litter of black Labs, and an eight week old puppy, Raven, came into our lives in May 2020. I like to think Pilot had a hand, or rather a paw, in sending Raven to us. He sent us a puppy who was so similar to him in character and behaviour, and I loved him from the moment he entered our house.

Since he was born in March 2020, right at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Raven found himself growing up in strange, unprecedented times. His book, ‘Raven’s Pandemic Tails’, charts his journey from puppyhood to adult dog during this period. The book not only describes his thoughts on COVID and the world in general, but his relationships with the other animals in his house. There is Scout, his know-it-all older canine sister, and Louie, the psychopathic cat who hates dogs of any variety! The book, written in diary format, is beautifully illustrated by the very talented Nicole Wykes, who through her drawings has captured the unique characters of the three animals. The book is a humorous, feel-good read, and would appeal to older children, adults, and anyone who loves dogs. It’s on sale for £8, and can be bought direct from myself, Raven’s “hooman”, Susan! Email It would make a lovely Christmas gift!

So although ‘Raven’s Pandemic Tails’ is Raven’s book, it would not have been possible without Pilot. It’s because Pilot had such a powerful impact on our lives that we extended our canine family with Scout and then Raven. It all goes back to Pilot, and the book is dedicated to him. I love Scout and Raven very much, they are my ‘furry children’, but I just loved Pilot more.

And just for the record, the sofa hasn’t been free of dog hair since 2011, but I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way.

In the last 30 days…

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