Preserving the Memory of Your Pet: Funerals and Services

July 23, 2010
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I know no one ever wants to think about the day their beloved cat, dog, hamster, or bunny dies but it is a part of life and part of owning a pet. Many of us may worry about diseases, infections, and parasites but don’t often think about what services are available or what to do with our pet once it is gone. If you wait till the vet asks you might find yourself making a decision that’s hasty, emotionally charged, or irrational and later, you may regret it.

You can start to prepare by looking at the options available. I’m not saying plan and buy things now, but just think about what sounds and feels right for your pet so you have a clearer head when the day comes around. Your decision of what to do should be based on how you think the memory of your beloved pet should be preserved.


Some people may feel a funeral is a fitting way to say good-bye to their pet. Others may feel it is too much and too close to humanizing the pet. It’s all in how you feel, how you process death, and it can be an act of closure. It is a way to care for your pet’s body in the same manner that you treated it when it was alive, with care, concern, and gentleness.

Home burials keep the animal close. You can create a permanent memorial to your pet with a marker, statue, or a tree. Going through the motions of creating the grave and saying good-bye can help one mourn and process the loss.

If you’re not able to do a home burial or feel it’s not right for you, cremating your pet and having the ashes is another way to remember. You can keep the ashes in a decorative urn or container with your pet’s name on it. You can also scatter the ashes. Pet crematories can be found in many cities and your vet may also do private cremations.

There is also the option to bury your pet in a cemetery. There are pet cemeteries in many cities and towns. For some, this may seem to be the right option and a proper way to honor your pet. For others, it’s a way to ensure that your pet’s remains are not disturbed. You’ll find that many people do this. In Long Island, NY there’s a pet cemetery that has a few fire department dogs that were loved among its plots and even an ex-US President’s dog.

There are many services available now for pets when they die and they allow you to choose the memorial you’d like as well handle picking up your animal from the vet or hospital. They will help arrange for a plot at a pet cemetery and provide things like flowers, viewings, and help you choose a marker. Many also have cremation services and have choices for urns with your pet’s name on it for you to purchase so your pet comes back to you in their own personal receptacle.

There are also online memorial sites where you can create a page for your pet and upload pictures and write a few words. Visitors can leave virtual flowers, messages, and light virtual candles.

Our pets are part of our family and losing a pet affects us emotionally. Whatever works for you to help process the loss and remember your pet is your personal choice. It’s good to know there are several options out there for us from a home burial to creating a memorial page on the internet.

The decision of what to do with your pet when it dies can be stressful, don’t leave it till the last minute. Thinking about what you’d like to do now can save some pain and confusion later. For today, go play with your buddy and enjoy the day together!


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