pet expert Darlene Arden
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Purrs Of Remembrance For Pet Expert Darlene Arden

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Purrs Of Remembrance For Pet Expert Darlene Arden

by Layla Morgan Wilde

rip Darlene Arden

The pet world is a darker place since Darlene Arden died recently. It hit hard and personally and these purrs of remembrance is a small tribute in her honor. Internationally recognized award-winning author and speaker, Darlene, a Certified Animal Behavior Consultant for dogs and cats, leaves behind many devoted friends, colleagues and countless admirers. The world has lost a great advocate and true pet expert for cats and dogs. Animals have lost a real hero but her legacy of books will continue to educate and inspire.

I’ve lost a mentor and the rare friend I could say anything to without impunity and complete trust.

When I interviewed Darlene Arden five years ago about her book, The Cat’s Meow, we became instant friends and trusted confidants. I felt incredibly blessed to find a kindred spirit. We shared a broad variety of interests beyond cats, a similar sense of humor and did not suffer fools gladly. We’re both known for our sharp tongues and zero tolerance for B.S.

Darlene confessed in our interview that she had stage four ovarian cancer. She chose not to go public with it and for five years I respectfully kept her secret. At that point, doctors gave her about four years to live. Darlene was convinced cancer is a turn-off and the only thing she hated more was a pity party. Or worse, playing the cancer card to get attention. For someone with an entertainment background like Darlene (her early career was acting, dancing, singing) she was egoless. She was always kind, helpful and generous but private. “If you want to know who your real friends are, tell them you have a terminal disease.” It didn’t phase me and I have no regrets.

I’ll miss our marathon phone calls where nothing was off limits and all secrets kept safe. Oh, if these walls could talk! We dished about our work, family, childhood, pop culture, politics, enemies, sycophants, juicy gossip laced with rip-roaring laughter. As two night owl insomniacs, we bonded over mutual illness and fibro fog. She could summon up wit at any hour regardless of her pain level. Talk about a firebrand but what a heart. And it was all about helping animals live better lives and she did.

When Darlene’s health deteriorated, her dear friend and soul sister Sue Janson began emailing detailed updates about Darlene’s condition to her inner circle. Darlene was adamant about not sharing publicly about her stage 4 ovarian cancer. “There is no stage 5,” Darlene often joked. Her sardonic humor stayed sharp until the end. Because we loved her, we guarded her right to privacy.

They don’t make intelligent, funny, Renaissance women like Darlene anymore and her death opened my eyes about retiring sooner than later. Life is too short to work so hard that it’s made me ill. It’s forced some difficult decisions and it’s possible Darlene’s death saved my life.

It saddened me to see Darlene not receive the respect in social media she deserved. We live in a youth-driven social media culture. One that doesn’t want to be slowed down by the lady with a walker. We often spoke about how difficult it was as bloggers to deal with sponsors who only care about numbers. She’d lament: It didn’t matter if the YouTube or Instagram star was an idiot, if they had a 6 or 7 figure following, they were an expert. I have no doubt, if she were a millennial today, she’d blow any star out of the water.

It’s one thing to know about a deadly prognosis but another to admit to denial. I thought Darlene’s feisty Aries nature would pull her through, yet again. Her humor, no nonsense and irreverent carried her far. Who else would call a trip to visit friends across country, last year, her “Farewell Tour”? When her cat, the remarkable Chartreuse, Aimee died, Darlene was inconsolable. She’d been planning to move to New Mexico with Aimee and I’d been helping her search for properties. I had a bad feeling about her health despite her adopting a Chartreux kitten, Paris. House hunting fell by the wayside and the uneasy reality settled in. She wasn’t going to start her new life in New Mexico. My only comfort is knowing Darlene and her beloved Aimee are reunited. That and not living through a Trump administration. The election just about did her in.

A couple of years ago , the dynamics or our relationship shifted and I become more of the mentor, teaching Darlene about social media, photo editing and walking her through the wilds of Instagram. She and my husband became friends bonding over their Jewish roots and mutual friends in the entertainment industry. We’ll both cherish the reams of Facebook private messages of one writer to another. My only regret is the last time we spoke was so brief. She was speaking to my husband when he handed the phone over I was too crazy stressed to speak for more than a minute. Who knew it would be the last time? I assumed there would be a next time. After all, she’d already beat the odds but it was not meant to be. She was in an out of hospitals and then the dreaded email last week from Sue, simply titled: Darlene Arden, Final Update.

Sue will be establishing a memorial scholarship in Darlene’s name with the Ovarian Cancer Symptom Awareness Organization. Darlene was on their advisory board and staunch supporter of the One Health Initiative for training of ovarian cancer sniffing dogs. Sue is also adding Darlene’s name to The Marcia Polimer Abrams Fund for Canine Behavior Studies that Darlene started in memory of her mother.

May her memory be a blessing.

pet expert Darlene Arden




  • Pipo/Minko/MrJackFreckles

    Its so hard to lose a good friend, esp when its to that evil Cancer. I can say that well, because I too have said goodbye to some precious friends and family members who had that evil diagnoses. Its a robber:(
    I have a friend right now with stage 4 ovarian Cancer, already had it since 2005, it was gone, but it came back…over and over, five times. Sheesh. I just know eventually this friend will one day have to say goodby to me. It will rob her family and her beloved dog, too. And Me?? I am a survivor of that selfsame plague. July 2006 diagnosed. No evidence of disease since late 2007. I am always telling others what to be on the lookout for…and what to tell their docs. Early diagnoses is the essential key, but this travesty is just so sneaky…and of course evil.
    Sorry I am so wordy….
    I started being on social pet sites (and later blogging ),in the early days of recovery…so its one way to relieve stress and connect with others and be on a soapbox, LOL!

  • Timmy

    We have some of her wonderful books and feel saddened by the loss. We send purrs and prayers of support to her family, friends and all who her kind spirit touched. I lost my sister to ovarian cancer 2 years ago and will be adding to the memorial fund.
    Pete, Timmy and Family

  • Sweet Purrfections

    I didn’t know Darlene, but she sounds like a wonderful woman. I never faced the death of a good friend until a few years ago and his death his change my life completely. Mike’s death made me realize life is too short and I have to learn to take care of myself. As I look towards retirement with a mixture of emotions, I know it’s God’s plan that I take this next step in my life. I wish only the best for you and hope you can find your place in this world. Be sure to take care of yourself and your darling fur children and your family. That’s what is important in life.

  • meowmeowmans

    We are so sorry, Layla. We did not know Darlene personally, but know she touched so many and save countless lives through her advocacy. We are thinking of you as you mourn Darlene’s passing, and sending love and comforting purrs and prayers your way.

  • Lola

    I’m so sorry for the loss of your friend. Being new to the community, I’m sorry I didn’t have the chance to know her or her work. My prayers and Reiki thoughts are with you for your healing.

  • Kimberly

    Such a beautiful remembrance. There’s nothing to say that conveys how sorry I am. When I lost my fiance/best friend I lost myself for a long time. She sounds like an amazing woman to have known. Please don’t be hard on yourself and ‘what-if’. You were a wonderful friend right back. I hadn’t heard of her but I can tell from your post that the world lost a very special, funny and caring woman.

  • Deb Barnes - Zee and Zoey

    I’ve been reading so many stories and comments about Darlene in the past few days and I’m blown away by how she touched so many people in such wonderfully personal and unique ways. She truly was one-of-a-kind and will be dearly missed. You were very blessed to have such a close and special relationship with her.

  • Mark Watson & Erin

    Thank you for such a wonderful tribute to Darlene, you were clearly very special to each other, and she was a special person, one of a few. I feel through what you have shared, that we all have lost a wonderful life, and I hope god finds a special place for her, with her beloved Aimee I shed tears for your loss, and the loss of a leading light in the lives of cats and dogs, and those in need of her help.

  • Bethany

    I’m so sorry. For what it’s worth, without knowing the details (and with my own baggage of Hope despite the scary stage IV diagnosis), I would say that you had hope, not that you were in denial. It’s not wrong to hope.

  • easyweimaraner

    I’m so sorry… and I totally agree with you… our modern world is ruled by numbers… and to find a place in our fast running media world after turning 29 the 87th time is not easy…

  • Cynthia Southern

    Layla, I send my condolences upon the passing of Darlene, your dear friend. Here is something ironic. My middle name is Darlene. Maybe cat lovers are named Darlene in some manner. She will live on in your heart and memories of the good times you shared together.

  • Chris Davis

    A beautifully written piece about Darlene— this is how I remember her, too, Layla. Her take-no-prisoners sense of humor is deeply missed. She is out of pain, reunited with loved ones and planning the next great adventure! May she continue to inspire us all from her new and much higher vantage point! Love and blessings to you, my friend.

  • Nancy Dube

    Darlene’s memory is indeed a memory.

    As far as the writers’ brief phone call with Darlene. Sadly We always assume there will be a next time. More phone calls, another day and a little more time.

    Death and taxes that is a given.

    Rest In Peace Darlene. You made a difference

  • Skeeter And Izzy

    God bless and God speed.Darlene will be so happy to see her beloved Aimee again. We must always take the time to say I love you even if we only have a moment to share. Life can change in an instant and we must be sure to try to leave without regret and to remain behind without regrets either.
    Luvs and kitty purrs and kisses. We know what it is like to lose a true friend.

    Skeeter nad Izzy and the Feral Gang + Twig & Peanut & Romeo & the Angels >^..^> ~>^..^<~

  • ConnieMarie

    Layla, that is a beautiful tribute to Darlene?
    She was interesting, intelligent, funny and a great listener. We messaged a lot way back in the early days of my 1st FB account. She taught me quite a lot about her Jewish belief’s and the different holidays. I won her book from you. I learned many things, that I’ve not seen else where! I told her this, she said oh sure, tell me 1 thing. So I told everything! Per her request, I did a review on Amazon for her, it’s gone now, I closed my account. I was dismayed by the lack of sales for her book. Everyone should have it. No offense to other expert author’s books, this one is a keeper!! I got away from social media, so it’s been awhile since we talked. I will still miss her dearly, I’m so sorry of all she had to go thru.
    Darlene was a winner in my life, I wish hers could have been longer. And Layla, you’re so correct in the fact she doesn’t have to see the Trump administration, it would have given her a heart attack for sure!
    Darlene, may you and Aimee rest in peace.

  • da tabbies o trout towne


    I am sorry to learn about the death of your friend. This is a very nice post//tribute to
    Darlene; I’ll bet she’s already read it and
    gives it paws UP ! My sincerest condolences
    to family members she left behind ♥♥♥


  • Caren Gittleman

    Layla this tribute was incredible. I am blessed to have been touched by Darlene. She often reached out to me with issues pertaining to those of us who are Jewish. When holidays came, her email cards were among the first I would receive. She always shared mine and others twitter handles freely…..she was never a “tit for tat” kind of a person. I LOVED her “tell it like it is” way…….she was oh so real. She will be deeply, deeply missed.

  • Cathy Keisha

    What a wonderful tribute. We didn’t know Darlene personally but as cat lovers feel her loss immensely. I’m sure Paris will be taken care of. Thank you for sharing these memories.

  • Sue Janson

    Layla, this is a wonderful tribute to an amazing lady. Thank you so much for honoring Darlene Arden, my chosen sister, in such a beautiful way. Thank you, too, for your very special friendship with her. She cherished it and you.

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