When a Pet Dies

 |  Aug 25th 2006  |   6 Contributions


Cathy M. Rosenthal

Cathy M. Rosenthal, the pet writer for the San Antonio Express-News and writer of the blog "Animals Matter," recently looked at how people treat their pets AFTER the pets die. She says some people stuff the bodies and keeping them in prominant places in their homes. How does this sound to you? Have you done that? Bark in!

Whenever a pet dies, people go through a mourning period. For some, the grief can be as intense and as long as when a beloved parent, child, or spouse dies. Why is that? Some people ask. It's just a pet.


For some, that pet was an integral part of their day. It's what got them up in the morning and it's what guided their day. The pet establishes a routine which we subconsciously follow. I haven't used an alarm clock in years. My cats begin waking me at 7 a.m. and my dogs are standing patiently by my bed by 7:30 a.m., breathing hot air on my face, hoping I will get the hint and let them outside.

When a pet dies, your routine changes and you are profoundly affected by it. Some people ask me, why am I crying more for Max than for my grandmother in Missouri? Your grandmother didn't wake you up in the morning, snuggle with you during the day, and go for walks with you. It doesn't mean you loved Max more than you loved your grandmother. It means Max was more a part of your day than grandma and you miss having your friend there to share your life with.

Many people have different ways to honor pets when they die, from burying them in the ground and providing memorials to cremating them and placing their ashes in urns. I have always had my pets cremated and then spread their ashes in a public place. I have moved too many times to leave behind a pet buried in a backyard. By spreading them in a public place I always know I have a place to visit them.

The rituals for a pet's death have grown considerably over the past decade. So has the industry for pet caskets and urns. But now something new has emerged. Last night, I watched a nightly news show about how some pet owners are freeze drying their pets. It takes about three months to do this and involves removing all the internal organs. The animal is then stuffed with straw (at least that is what it looks like, it is probably something else) and then eventually positioned into a familiar pose using old family photos. The pet is then positioned on a favorite pillow or bed and can be taken home to sit by the mantle.

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