A recent episode of CBS Sunday Morning featured a segment on a lovely, well-tended pet cemetery near Napa Valley, California called Bubbling Well Pet Memorial Park.
CBS’s Lee Cowan spoke to Helen Chulik, who lost her dog Fancy 10 years ago and still visits her at Bubbling Well about once a week to connect and change the flowers at her grave. “They’ll love you no matter what you look like, or how old you are,” Chulik told Cowan. “They accept you for what you are.”
Anyone who has ever had a pet can relate to Helen Chulik. Framed pictures of Samantha, my family’s golden retriever who died nine years ago, have a prominent place in my home. My parents chose to have Samantha continue to live with them in an urn in their living room, behind a beautiful picture of her smiling in the sun. Every time I visit, I take a minute to say hi to Sam, and smile at the inscription we chose for her urn: “Loved. Dignified. Perfect.”
Here are a few ways to honor your beloved pet:
- Pet Funeral: Many funeral homes offer pet funerals now but if you’d prefer something more informal, gather your friends and family to share stories about your pet. You can also make a slideshow featuring some of the wonderful/funny/everyday moments you shared together.
- Scatter Ashes: Many people like to scatter their pets’ ashes in meaningful places, such as a hiking trail, a backyard, or even just in the wind.
- Keep a Pet Urn: Many people choose an urn for their pet’s final resting place. It doesn’t matter where you put it in your home, sometimes it’s just nice to know it’s there.
- Creative Remembrances: I have a brilliantly creative cousin who wrote and illustrated a book honoring the life of her dog. Other ideas include: creating a photo book, commissioning a portrait of your pet or making a donation to your local animal shelter in your pet’s name.
However you choose to honor your pet, I like how Lee Cowen put it: “What most will agree is that a pet’s devotion comes from its spirit, not its body.” And as for Chulik and Fancy, “We’ll get together,” she told Cowan. “If there’s a heaven, our pets will be with us, there’s no doubt.”