I have a 13 year old Australian Shepherd, and it's starting to feel like his life is drawing to a close. He's been a beloved family pet and friend since he was 2 months old, and this is already extremely difficult. Hopefully it's further off than I am anticipating.
I'd like suggestions/advice regarding what to do with his remains. The options I have identified (and my response to each) are below.
1) Bury in backyard. This is legal in my county. This is honestly my preference, as it would feel right to have him nearby and in the place he loved. A few smaller pets are buried there too. However, it is quite likely that we will move in the next 3-5 years, and we worry about him being disturbed in the future. This may sound terrible--but how long would you anticipate it taking a dog body to decompose?
2) Bury him in a cemtery. There are two pet cemeteries within an hour of our home. I have visited both. One is in a run-down area of a run-down town and just feels neglected and not right. One is in a nicer cemetery and I like (not love) the location. However, burying him there would cost $2000+ which, although do-able, would be a financial burden.
3) Cremate him. For many reasons, my religion is opposed to cremation (for people) except for in areas where it is the only legal option. Probably due to this, I am really not liking the idea of cremation. This is what most people in my area/religion seem to do with deceased pets though. I don't like the idea of his body being burned. This is the option I'm least comfortable with, but it is what other family members lean towards. If we went this route, we would probably scatter the ashes rather than keeping them. I don't have a hard time parting with the ashes, it's the process of acquiring the ashes that I dislike.
What would you do? Any advice? I haven't been through this with a dog before.
I didn't have a choice--it was illegal to bury where I was and we neither had a pet cemetery nearby nor could afford it. We weren't planning to move when it happened and in fact, were in our home another 6 years afterward. I didn't scatter the ashes, though.
Now, nearly 8 years later, we live half the country away and his ashes are here. Now I feel like I don't want to scatter his ashes in a place he didn't love. I wish I'd have scattered the ashes at our old house because it's silly that they're on my mantle. :/
If I were in your shoes--knowing you were going to move--I would cremate and scatter the ashes. That's assuming you could make peace with cremation. Like you, the idea of their body being disturbed is really unsettling. :/
Bury him in your yard. Then, have a nice, poured-concrete, patio-type slab laid over the location. You could put a pretty bench and some flower pots/planters on it and call it your "quiet spot". You could even write his name & dates in the wet concrete, as it sets.
We did this when I was younger and had two small poodles. The first one died and we buried him at the foot of our deck stairs (it was in a bed of lily of the valley). We knew exactly where he was buried. When our other dog died, much later, we buried him in the same bed, but further away. Both graves were about 4' deep and the dogs were in wooden boxes.
Then, we had a concrete slab poured over the bed and knew that, probably, nobody would tear up the nice patio (it blended nicely with the pre-existing patio). We sold the house (both my parents have died) several years ago and the new owners loved the expanded patio. We never told them what was underneath it....
If a slab is impractical, bury him deep and plant a nice tree on the grave. Something that any future owner would find attractive (maybe a nice fruit tree?) and less likely to cut down.
In the meantime, you might want to make a cement garden stepping stone with his paw print on it. If you move, you can take the stone with you to your new home and place it in your new yard. It's a nice way of remembering your beloved pet, wherever you live.
We live out in the country and will never be moving from this home. We are on 60+ acres with gorgeous, deep, rock-free soil. We have a lovely big cottonwood grove in which we have allowed several friends bury their dogs (they knew they would not be staying in the area or have very small yards). They also placed cement stones with the dogs' names on them. We call it the "Dog Grove" and it is lovely. Dh has planted lots of daffodils in it, over the years and, every Spring & into early Summer, it is a carpet of yellow and white. Orioles & wrens nest in the trees and there is always bird song. A great horned owl lives in one tree year-round and we can see its' outline in the Winter. We always build a "snowdog" each Winter in the grove. It's a lovely place!
Thank you both for your replies. I appreciate the insights!
A concrete slab in that area is not practical, but a tree may be.
I adore your "Dog Grove" grahamsmom98! If I ever get the opportunity to live in such a place, I'll definitely do likewise. It sounds wonderful and peaceful--just like it should be.
When my two beloved cats died, I had them cremated. They died two years apart from each other. This past spring we went to a greenhouse and bought two very beautiful trees which were long lasting and strong. All three which represented my beloved cats. My intent was bury each under one of the trees. The holes were dug, the trees were ready to placed and....I couldn't do it. It was as if I was saying goodbye to them again. So....in a box on top of my fridge they sit. Given my experience, this is what I think you should do. Bury your dog in your yard with a big, beautiful shade tree. Give the tree lots of love and attention and it will grow to be something the new owners would love and cherish. Good luck. Saying goodbye to my cats was harder than saying goodbye to many of my extended family members who have passed.
Don't worry about holding onto those ashes for as long as you want. If the time comes that you are ready to bury or scatter them, it will be the right time. Don't let anyone tell you it is wrong to hold onto them!!
My Mom's ashes are sitting on our living room bookcase, in a beautiful canopic jar (Anubis, as she loved dogs). She died in July. We divided her ashes into two urns (plus, a couple of pieces of jewelry designed to hold ashes). One urn was placed in the same plot where Dad is buried, in our cemetery. Ds (age 13) asked if we could keep her Anubis urn in our home, just to have her near. We feel quite comfortable with the idea (my fil, not so much!).
I also made a beautiful hair brooch with a lock of her hair in it, from an antique Victorian pin. It gives me comfort to wear it (and, everyone, that has seen it, thinks it is awesome!).
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