How to honor a pet?
May 15, 2010 11:23 AM   Subscribe

Our family dog (beagle/fox terrier mix) died this morning after 12 healthy years of life. Obviously, we loved him madly and are very, very sad. What's a decent, graceful and private way to honor his life?
posted by davebush to Pets & Animals (17 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
You could plant a tree or rosebush. If this is still an option, you can make a plaster pawprint. I've seen kits for those sold at craft stores.
posted by emilyd22222 at 11:24 AM on May 15, 2010

How about making a donation in his name to a local animal shelter?
posted by ericb at 11:26 AM on May 15, 2010 [7 favorites]

You could keep his dog tags on your keychain.

I'm so sorry for your loss.
posted by lilac girl at 11:31 AM on May 15, 2010

My way of honoring a fallen companion is to go out and rescue one of their kind in need. There are lot of animals in need out there and it always gives me lots of comfort to help when I can.
posted by bartonlong at 11:49 AM on May 15, 2010 [5 favorites]

Oh, I am so sorry! Losing a pet is just one of the hardest things ever.

To add to the above:

*You can create an altar.
*Put together a photo collage.
*Write a thank you letter to him (or poem, and have all your family contribute).
*Create a memorial service where you all share your favorite stories of him.
*Have a picnic in his favorite spot and scatter his ashes there.

Just remember to do that which feels comfortable and natural. Allow the grieving process to take as long (or short) as it does. Each family member is going to process this in a different way with different stages of emotion at different times.
posted by Vaike at 12:00 PM on May 15, 2010

I'm so sorry. Our dog died almost 2 years ago and I still miss him so much.

I will second what emilyd22222 said about the plaster pawprint if you can still get that. Our vet actually did it for us as a keepsake. After we got Boo's ashes back, I went to a craft store, bought a small hinged box, stained it, glued the pawprint to the top and put the ashes inside. Seeing his little pawprint still makes me smile. We plan on burying the box eventually, but we haven't yet.

We also did our own little family service and read this poem -, then signed all of our names to it and put it in the box with him. That poem still gets me every time.

Take care.
posted by fresh-rn at 12:14 PM on May 15, 2010

Oh I am so sorry.

When my adorable fox terrier goes (he is young and hopefully we have many more years to share), I plan to have an urn engraved for his ashes reading, "He was a good boy."
posted by trip and a half at 12:19 PM on May 15, 2010

If there was a local park where he loved to go, offer a donation in your pet's name - you could plant a tree or sponsor a portion of a local dog park. Also, a donation in his name to a local animal shelter would be a lasting and fitting tribute.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 12:42 PM on May 15, 2010

Peonies can live for 100 years. I buried my cat in the yard and planted a peony over her. Now every spring we get Mookie flowers.
posted by HotToddy at 1:08 PM on May 15, 2010 [5 favorites]

Plant a tree or spread the ashes in a near-by park or forest you visited with him often. Return to this place at least once a year. Make a photo album of a couple of your favorite photos of him you can flip through once in a while. These two things might help you get through the tough times (I've been there myself).

To truly honour his life, I agree with bartonlong. Head out to the local pet shelter after a few weeks of mourning and rescue a new dog. There are nearly an unlimited number of dogs who were stays, injured, uncared for, and in need of a hug and a good home. You have too much love and care to not share with another dog who is in need.

Never forget your first pet; that's what the photos and memorial place is for. But honour him by caring for a fellow companion in need.
posted by Kippersoft at 1:51 PM on May 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'm so sorry to hear this...I just lost my best friend of 12 years this past Monday and I'm still crying.

What I've started doing is writing down everything I loved about her, general things about her personality and specific stories. Nothing formal, just writing things as I think of them.

It's really been helping me to remember all the fun we've had over the years and I think in the future, it'll help so that I don't forget all those good times.
posted by Zoyashka at 4:04 PM on May 15, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I have quietly grieved for two years when my dog died. Now I think I have moved on a bit, but still remember him from time to time. My heart still breaks a little whenever I catch myself trying not to step over him whenever I open the back door, until it all comes back to me that he's dead and nobody's sleeping there on the rug anymore, where he always was.

Things will not be easy, but I hope you find your way. For all it's worth, this book has helped me tremendously, even if it did make me cry: Love That Dog by Sharon Creech.

I always keep a photo of him in my wallet. He was a friend, a child, a brother, and it was the only way I knew how to honor him: by not forgetting. I don't think I will be able to handle getting another pet. Maybe someday.
posted by pleasebekind at 4:09 PM on May 15, 2010 [1 favorite]

Sorry for your loss. We keep our ferrets ashes. Since we move around a lot, it made sense. In a little nook we keep them along with a favorite toy, blanket, sock or small something to remember them by.
posted by sundri at 4:25 PM on May 15, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks to all. My wife, daughter and I are doing our best. We loved our Zip and today was very difficult, but we'll be OK in time. This past winter, my wife was inspired enough by our little guy to write and illustrate a book about him - I put the book's website together - I suspect I'll eventually expand the site into a permanent tribute of some sort.

Thanks again to everyone.
posted by davebush at 7:26 PM on May 15, 2010

My parents' thing when our dogs died was to plant a tree--naturally, a dogwood tree--and hang the dog's tags from it. The trunk of one of those trees, which was planted over 20 years ago, has since grown around the tag so that only the edge sticks out. I love this.

I'm sorry for your loss.
posted by dlugoczaj at 7:40 PM on May 15, 2010

I like the idea of going back to the shelter and seeing if there might not be another dog that you can connect with to honor his memory. You could also donate some money, tangible items, or available time to said shelter.

Something I'm considering doing with my beloved Tamlyn's ashes is getting one of these pouches for them and making a huge pillow similar to what they have on their site to stick the pouch in. I have 4 more dogs (2 of whom were adopted after his death), whose ashes I plan to have join his in the pillow. I'll embroider their names and dates on the pillow as the occasion warrants.
posted by arishaun at 7:27 PM on May 16, 2010

Second the altar/shrine/place of memories suggestion. That's what we did after we lost our 12-year-old beagle a few years back. We have a spot on the mantel over the fireplace where we keep his ashes, tags, and several photos of him when he was at his happiest and goofiest. I'm very sorry for your loss. Beagles are the sweetest dogs in the world.
posted by blucevalo at 11:05 AM on June 9, 2010

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