by Elisa Black-Taylor
How will I be remembered?
This is going to be a long one, friends. I hope to offer a lot of information and suggestions on this subject. To prepare for this read, grab a pot of coffee (yes dear readers, 1 cup won't do it), a snack, a box of tissues, pen and a notepad. That should do it for starters.
This is a growing trend that was unheard of before the turn of this century. The local news is even covering this new concept. I'm going to include a lot of information and a lot of links because now is the time for planning. I will throw personal opinion in as to the low cost method I've already formulated in my overworked brain. Regardless of where you live, this is something eventually faced by most pet owners.
I'm talking about PET DEATH and a PET FUNERAL.
It is not the time to plan final arrangements when a pet death occurs in a family. The time is now. Please bookmark this article.
CAUTION: Your fingers will probably be sore from surfing all of the links I'm providing. This was the easiest way to keep the sources separated into categories.
Allow me to add this before we dive too deeply into this. DO NOT INVITE THOSE WHO WILL THINK A PET FUNERAL IS STUPID.
First lets discuss the professional pet funeral by people who put these together for a living. Pet death is a very hard subject to deal with. Each company I've included in this article understands this.
I first heard of the concept of pet funerals about 2 years ago and brushed it aside. Of course, 2 years ago the idea was in its infancy and has steadily grown. It sounded expensive and I was unsure how people would feel. Face it, would you attend a public or private pet funeral if you were invited to one? I would. If I'd been invited 10 years ago, I don't know what my answer would have been.
I also want to applaud these companies for seeing the need for this service rather than to exploit people with pets only for monetary gain. They all must have a deep love of animals to even offer these services. Society has changed a lot in the last 20 years.
A friend of mine sent me this link showing what a local pet funeral service should offer. A lot of questions and photos of a pet funeral are included. This comes from Dignity Pet Mortuary Service in Greenville, SC. Most areas now have something similar. Owner Sandra Martin is a licensed mortician who has been serving her area since 2005. She is a shining example of what we should look for in pet funeral services. I hope there are many more out there that offer the same quality service. Consider one with a prepay service that operates in the same manner as with us humans. Dignity Pet Mortuary Service does offer this. This site should be used as an example for those wanting to start a pet funeral business.
Pet Angel Memorial Center is a United States company devoted to pet funerals. Pets are all they do and they do it well. They are currently operational in Indiana, Kansas and Florida. I have included them because they offer a lot of good advice for remembering a pet They also offer everything from merchandise to grief support.
I won't go into prices since they vary from one location to another, change over time and depend on how many "extras" are put into a ceremony. Many are going all out and replicating family funerals much like when a family member dies. Memorials.com - Pet funeral information is a good webpage to check out if you have children who will mourn the pet.
Most agree that a pet funeral of some kind will help a child deal with the grief and loss of losing a beloved friend. It's also suggests to allow the child a major role in planning the funeral. Just make sure ahead of time that this won't upset the child.
I've found one pet insurance company that offers a death benefit along with medical coverage: PetPlan
They offer $1000 for death of an insured pet. It's nice to know one pet health insurance company is moving forward and hopefully others will follow. I haven't researched the company as to their service record. I only wanted to give it "honorable mention" because they seem to understand the importance (financially) of a pet's death.
I will discuss different ways to memorialize a pet at the end of the article.
Now I would like to do a scaled down version for those of us who want to remember their pet, but don't have the financial means for a formal pet funeral. First of all, know in advance how your four legged friend will be laid to rest. Will there be a grave in the backyard, a plot at a pet cemetery or cremation? Or would the new method of freeze drying be a better option? Again I stress plans be made well in advance.
I'm fortunate in that I will be able to bury my pets on my property if I so choose allowing me to visit my pet whenever I want. I grew up on a good sized piece of land where all of my childhood pets were laid to rest. Thirty years later I could still tell anyone exactly where each was buried. My family always had a small goodbye ceremony once the box was lowered into the ground. It was hard, but to just go on with life without acknowledging grief would have been worse.
If you plan to bury your pet in a favorite sleeping spot in the backyard you will need to check local ordinances. Some areas legally require the grave be a certain depth or a certain "container" must be used. These laws protect against health hazards involved by other animals digging up a buried pet.
If ordinances in your area allow wooden caskets for backyard burial, they can be decorated and personalized. Satin pillows can be purchased at a local discount store for a very small price. Fresh flowers can be used to decorate the casket and the memorial.
Personally I'd suggest the pet viewing shortly before the pet funeral.
I realize those who live in apartments must use other options.
Cremation is the number one method of remembering a pet. Since that only affects the physical remains, a pet funeral can still be held. Or the ceremony can be held with the pet urn and photos of the pet.This webpage has a lot of information: Pet Memorials and Pet Burial Laws
Cremation alone in my area start at $125.00. This is base price and doesn't include the urn or pick up and delivery. For more information on what to look for in a cremation service company please see: Pet Cremation.
There are over 600 active pet cemeteries in the United States. Some operate as a stand alone company. Others team up with vets, groomers and others in the pet industry (see link above)
A historic cemetery in Akron, Ohio is allows people and their pets to be buried together; awesome. I think it's a great option. This is the
link -- broken May 2013 in case you doubt me.
The last option I'd like to talk about is taxidermy. It all began when I was a child and my family visited a WWII friend of my dad's who lived in Maryville, Tennessee. They owned a cloth shop and this is where we went to visit them. Behind the counter sat a beautiful collie dog. He'd been beautifully? (restored? remembered? stuffed?) I'm at a loss for words, but the memory of that dog stayed with me thru the years. He'd died 5 years earlier and was as lifelike as a real dog. I've secretly wished for a career in taxidermy ever since. I'm too squeamish.
The new method of taxidermy is freeze drying. If I were rich, this is the way I'd wa nt to go. I'm providing a link for more on this service. There is also a pricing page for those interested. The only downside I've found to this method (besides cost) is there is a high level of upkeep or the pet becomes susceptible to carpet beetles. This is not a turn your pet over and get it back next week option. It can take 6 months+.
I've found an awesome, addictive, site that also has memorial templates you can create yourself: Imikimi
To end this I would like to offer a little spiritual guidance. The following sites have studied the Bible and offer hope that we will one day be united with our furr-babies.http://news.discovery.com/animals/do-pets-go-to-heaven.html. This site quotes Psalms that God has plans for all of the animals in his eternal heaven. The following two links support this belief: Link 1 - Link 2
I hope this article is more useful than depressing. Just as with people, funeral planning is more easily done before the service is needed. Since the links cover particular geographical areas, use your search engine to find similar local service. The one's I've used are mainly a guide as to what's available. The internet is full of information on all of the above. My intent here is to touch base with the many options we have.
Please keep in mind this is all about remembering the pets we love(d).I'd love to get feedback on this. I'm 100% for any service that memorializes our pets.