Sue Stephens, Woodside Friend and Trustee, August 2013 – May 2020

“What we have once enjoyed deeply we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.”

– Hellen Keller

Grief is an internal response to loss. It is a testament to the fondness, love and admiration we have and had for that person. We carry grief within ourselves, holding hands with the memories of those since departed. Grief can be difficult to express. A way to express our grief is through words; a meaningful and respectful way to reminisce and share those moments that were enriched; moments that are just as important for those left behind as they are for the loved one we’re saying goodbye to.

After a long battle with cancer, we sadly say goodbye to a member of Woodside’s Family, Sue Stephens.

Sue was a person of character, a flute bursting with orange juice amongst glasses filled with water.

She was many things to many people. She was a shoulder of strength, a shoulder to cry on, she was the words of wisdom whispered into the ear of a friend in need.

She was a person who would always pause, share a glance of recognition and who would talk and listen to anyone that wanted and those that needed.

To the Centre, Sue was a Trustee, a dog walker, a dog show judge, a volunteer who helped at events and an adept telephonist. But for all her roles, she was also our friend, a frequent visitor who became a member of Our Family. As a family, we walked a journey together, we all built relationships with her, each one different, all precious, none forgotten.

With warmth and radiance, we remember her passion and love. She adored all animals, but her ardour lay with dogs. With smiling eyes and a beaming smile, she would express her love of all dogs, but bull breeds held a special place in her heart. Her love for the breed came from the huge numbers brought into Woodside; and with their breed came a length of stay that would exceed other breeds. Sue would greet them all by name, with a timbre in her voice that conveyed her affectionate nature.

Her foray into life at Woodside began with walking dogs. A role she loved, during the days of winter and rain, through summer and shine, through the moments of laughter of those of deep conversation, Sue became friends with Jenni. Jenni spent many hours walking dogs at Woodside, a shared passion that solidified their bond.

They would work together, sharing days with the dogs, sometimes walking a whole block by themselves. The dogs would offer a wiggle, a wag of the tail and an expression that showed how happy they were to see them.

When Sue’s health deteriorated, walking dogs became a luxury her health would not afford.

Dog walking slowly eased but her visits and emotional investment never waned. She would arrive, smile primed, humour in tow, and spend time with the team and the dogs.

The reception sofa would house doggy meets, encounters that would feature the inevitable crescendo of doggy donuts, the gift of laughter and times of tears, but all of them were moments of sharing.

With the onset of illness, Sue wanted to give to Woodside and ensure the dogs were cared for. We spoke and so was borne the notion of The Doghouse.

There were many gifts Sue gave us. I would like to thank Sue from the bottom of our hearts for the gift of The Doghouse.

Dogs that come into Woodside are sometimes from poor households or have been exposed to cruel treatment. Always caring, Sue wanted them to have somewhere where they could enjoy, run free and have access to a home from home. A moment of simple thought became The Doghouse.

Words cannot convey the level of gratitude we have, or the impact this gift has bestowed. No words can describe how truly grateful we are. The difference this makes to thousands of canine lives is incredible.

Thank you, Sue.