Pet Memorials: The Many Ways We Remember Animals Who Have Passed
Published on January 24, 2014
I remember the day that my beloved Sophie Sue’s headstone arrived. I’d ordered it a year to the day of her death, and it had arrived about a month later, a 10-pound block of granite I hoped would work well under the tree we’d planted in her memory.
Sophie’s ashes had been buried at the base of a sapling, a spindly thing I’m sad to say hasn’t exactly flourished as I’d hoped. But laying the headstone there had nonetheless offered us all a sense of peace at her passing.
It was a sweet thing to do back then (in 2010) and an even sweeter thing to see whenever I tend to that section of my yard today. It reminds me of her feisty demeanor and degree of self-possession any of us would kill for.
Moreover, it reminds me that she’s still living with us in her own way. Which, seeing as she always lived life on her own French bullheaded terms, makes having a visible memento of her personality especially touching to those who knew her.
To Each His Own
But not everyone feels the same way when it comes to remembering their past pets. I get that it can be depressing to be reminded of your dead pets on a regular basis. Nonetheless, it’s clear that pet owners are increasingly electing to immortalize them.
If you need any proof of this phenomenon, just venture beyond this post onto the World Wide Web. All over the Internet you can find beautiful tributes to pets on websites dedicated to their memory. It’s a bittersweet testament to their enduring emotional hold over us. And it’s proof enough for me that good pets never die.
Palpable Pet Memorials
But a virtual memorial isn’t for everyone, either. Indeed, it’s not enough for me. While I’ll happily immortalize my pets by writing about them, I can’t keep from engaging in the more familiar — and tangible — rituals most of us have typically elected to honor our dead.
Photographs, headstones, cremains and the urns to carry them are the standard approaches we’ve typically chosen to keep our beloved pets close long after they’ve gone. More and more, however, we humans are seeking out less traditional ways of memorializing them. In fact, some of the newer methods are downright odd (if sweet, nonetheless).
Consider the following newer-fangled ways in which we remember our deceased pets:
- Paw print impressions: Though these have been commonplace for a couple of decades, I still find pet owners who have never heard of this simple approach in which a pet’s paw is pressed into a clay form and allowed to dry. It’s sweet and long-lasting.
- Nose impressions: As long as we’re on the subject of impressions, consider this cool new trick for pets living or dead. Using a kit, you mold a material around a pet’s nose and send it off to an artist who casts it in metal. I’ve seen it done in silver as a pendant so you can wear it as jewelry. (I found an artist who does this on Etsy.)
- Gemstones: Human and animal cremains can both be made into gemstones through a process that compresses the material into a crystallized form. You can then have these gemstones set by a jeweler in any setting you choose.
- Pet taxidermy: I know it sounds odd, but some people actually prefer to have their pets’ remains freeze-dried and processed into lifelike stuffed replicas of their living selves.
Now, I know some of these sound a tad wackadoo, but there’s very little that seems strange to me when it comes to how we choose to remember our deceased pets.
Me? Right about now I’m thinking I would’ve loved a silver Sophie Sue schnoz pendant. But then, I still wear her favorite dog collar when I go out to dinner sometimes. It takes all kinds, right?
Read more Vetstreet posts about memorializing pets.