Having just celebrated Memorial Day, in which we honor those who have made the supreme sacrifice for our nation — including our often unheralded military dogs — it’s a natural thing to have our thoughts turn back to loved ones we have lost. Most recently, I went down memory lane with a story about my childhood dog, Pal, who saved a petting zoo. Doubtless you have indulged in some memory time over the past few days as well.
Perhaps that’s why this news blast from St. Francis Animal Rescue caught my eye. Its upcoming Celebration of Life, to honor the memory of pets that have passed away, is scheduled for Sunday, June 3. According to shelter president Amy Berke, “Yes, all pets are invited to be memorialized by their people — cats, dogs, birds, reptiles, and any other animals that touched the hearts of those who cared for them.” It sounds wonfurrful.
One of the downsides of having moved so much over the years is that the final resting places for my furry family are scattered across the country. Pal is buried in Pennsylvania, on the land formerly known as Birdland. Dudley’s final resting place is on Henson’s Mountain in Sylva, NC, and Sterling rests in a small clearing on a hill above Western Carolina University’s faculty apartments in Cullowhee, NC. Curly Jean’s final resting place is in Southern California. And where are we now? Texas.
Moving about the country certainly has its rewards, but when it comes to pets, I envy those who have lived their whole lives in the same house or town, and are able to have a special place to visit in the backyard or even a local pet cemetery. Many is the time I have longed to visit Sterling’s mountain meadow, but it is 988 miles to that hallowed spot. Memory will have to suffice.
The Celebration of Life poster sums up the relationship between humans and their pets very nicely:
“The special bond between people and their pets can only be described as unconditional love.”
All of my pets — dogs, cats, one rabbit, and now Jackie the Guinea Pig — have loved unconditionally. Each has held a special place and, as you can well imagine, one or two have been extra special. It just doesn’t seem right to have left them behind. Photos and pet pages are certainly a comfort, but there are times when Birdland and the Cullowhee Valley call to me. And it hurts every time knowing I cannot be there.
How have you chosen to honor your pet’s memory? Do you have a local shelter doing a similar program to the one being held by St. Francis Animal Rescue? Do you plan something just with the family or on your own? If you have moved around a lot, as we have, how have you dealt with not having a beloved pet’s final resting place readily accessible? Let’s talk. There’s not much more a pet can ask than to be remembered.
Til next week!