How can I best honor the memory of my pup?
June 1, 2008 8:08 AM   Subscribe

MemorialFilter: I lost a pet today, and was looking for a bit of help with creating/having something created for her so that we will continue to be comforted by her presence.

I'm still a little upset, so forgive me if I'm not as articulate as I ought to be. My dog, Ginger, was older (15+), a rescue, and my first dog. I had her for 5 years.

She passed away peacefully, at home, and in her bed.

I've already taken her to the vet, where they have contacted the pet mortuary specialst (I'm not aware of the correct term) and she will be picked up today. He will call us within the week and we will discuss urn options and all that. It is a personalized/individualized cremation, so I will get her ashes back.

I have lots of photos, and wonderful memories. But what I'd really like to do now is something like this: (sorry, can't get the link function to work right now). Unfortunately, their prices are kind of out of my range right now. I'm thinking about saving up so I can have it done in the future, but I was unsure of there perhaps being a similar type of business that is nearer to North Carolina, or if anyone here was aware of another program like this. I think having something tangible and beautiful that I can keep with me will honor her the way she deserves.

Thank you all in advance. I appreciate any help you all can give. And, at the risk of turning into chatfilter, personal anecdotes regarding pet memorials are more than welcome.
posted by sara is disenchanted to Pets & Animals (15 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
A little more... traditional, but if you have quite a few photos, why not commission a painting? There are many people who can paint quite well in this world (especially if you live near a artish school), and many would be very interested in a commission. My grandmother painted our cat (and although my entire family is ambivalent towards her, the cat), it's a very nice reminder-type of thing.
posted by tmcw at 8:19 AM on June 1, 2008

When we lost a dear, sweet cat to cancer, we took her body to our wonderful caring vets (they had tried valiantly to save her several times).
Before they sent her body to the pet crematorium, they gently placed her front paws in plaster so we'd have her little pawprints as a reminder of our beloved cat. So now we've got those sitting in front of the beautiful box containing her ashes. I couldn't have been more pleased or more touched by how everyone -- vets, vet technicians, crematorium -- took care of her body. (This was in Bryan, Texas, by the way.)
posted by Smalltown Girl at 8:43 AM on June 1, 2008

I was going to suggest what Smalltown Girl did. Our vet did that for us when our bunny died. We were touched; it's personal without being maudlin like some of the other pet memorials out there. Also, they didn't charge us for it - they either did it for free or included it in the cost of cremation.

I'm so sorry for your loss.
posted by AV at 8:55 AM on June 1, 2008

If you're anywhere near a pottery studio or someplace with kilns, I'm sure they'd let you have a small amount of clay to make her footprints with. I have for people in the past.

If it's too late for that, the idea of a pendant is a good one. I couldn't get the memorialsnglass one to show me any images - gah, what an awful website! - So I don't know what kind of thing you're looking for exactly. But my friend Ann Clough does beautiful glass lampworking, and she's often created custom things for me. I'm sure she would be able to incorporate some of Ginger's ashes into a personalized creation for you.
posted by GardenGal at 8:58 AM on June 1, 2008

I've seen before where artists can incorporate the ashes into glass or ceramic pieces.
posted by phunniemee at 9:12 AM on June 1, 2008

I'm so sorry for your loss.

It really comforts me to light a small votive candle or tea light and place it near me when I am in my house or near a place my dog who passed liked to sleep. It's been a few years and I still do this every once in a while. I like to think that flicker of light is a part of that spirit in her that was so bright while she was with me. The light gently dances around, comforting me, reminding me she's peacefully elsewhere, everywhere, and the love I feel for her can still fill me with joy.

Here's an earlier similar thread that may be of some help, and a thread on poems about dogs and grief.

One thing that earlier threads unofficially say is that you are not alone. Grief is very difficult and the loss is like a hole in your heart. Dogs generally seem to celebrate joy in life, try to think about those times Ginger did that with and for you. Do what you need to do to grieve. Take the time you need to take. Best wishes, my heart goes out to you today.
posted by dog food sugar at 9:13 AM on June 1, 2008

My heart and thoughts go out to you during this difficult time.

Here is a site that offers something similar at a smaller price tag:

I have not used them but did hear good things.
posted by texas_blissful at 9:25 AM on June 1, 2008

When my beloved husky finally passed on to the big pack in the sky a few years ago, I approached the director of the urban park across the street (where she loved to romp) and asked whether it was possible to donate money to plant a tree and install a plaque at its base. They'd never had that sort of request before (for an animal - they had a memorial program in place for humans), but the director was understanding and kind, and seemed game.

I wish I'd followed through, but life got in the way, time passed, and we don't live in that neighborhood anymore. I still think it's a great idea.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 9:48 AM on June 1, 2008

I can't seem to Google for a good example, but I know there are picture frames out there where the ashes (cremains) are in the frame itself. You can then insert a picture of your dog and have the ashes all in one place.
posted by rhizome at 10:04 AM on June 1, 2008

I too recently lost my elderly dog. For some reason I was dead set against having her ashes and now I sort of regret it. But I did take her personal things, harness, leash, her blankie and put them in a pretty box that I keep on my dresser. I take out her photos frequently and just, I don't know, think about her. I also opted to get a new rescue dog way earlier than I would have thought but she has turned out to be such a huge comfort. She in no way replaces Reba but instead lets me do something good for an previously abused animal in her memory.
posted by yodelingisfun at 11:10 AM on June 1, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'm so sorry for your loss. I didn't have the ashes but like yodelingisfun, I've kept her leash, brush, toothbrush and favourite toy in a lovely wooden box that has pride of place on my desk. Not long before she died we had a pen and ink portrait done of her and that too has become a treasured reminder.

Everyone is different but I too found that the grieving process was greatly eased by adopting another rescue dog soon after we lost her - waking up to an empty house was so dreadful and there are so many dogs needing homes, it just felt right.
posted by ceri richard at 11:30 AM on June 1, 2008

A friend of mine found a box somewhere that had a picture frame in the lid, so his dog's ashes are inside the box with a favorite photo of him set in the lid. I haven't seen it in person but I always thought it sounded like a very nice idea.
posted by dnash at 1:06 PM on June 1, 2008

I lost my cat and best friend of more than ten years last spring. We wrapped her in a shroud of her favorite bag - she always slept on/in it and buried her in our backyard in a quiet spot with plenty of sun. We planted a small tree over her grave.

For me, it is impossible to think of her as being something static. With her outside in my yard, I can think of her as part of the world around me, the world that is still here every day and touching me though she is gone. She is there when I sit quietly in the garden, sun on my cheek, in the gentle breeze rustling through my hair, in the vibrant blush of flowers that burst out of my flowerbeds just days after she died.

Though I'm crying now, thinking of her and the emotions I felt when we buried her there, whenever I water the tree I think of her in a much more peaceful way. Watering 'her' tree, sitting under it and enjoying the sparse leaves, watching it slowly grow over the months, or mulching it and preparing it for winter gives me a sense of connection with her. It is hard for me to think of her in a box somewhere, antiseptic and removed from life. So that's what worked for me.

Like you, I had pictures of her but wanted something special and couldn't really afford some of the expensive portraiture. I'd recommend etsy, which is an online shop for crafters. There are a lot of people who do pet portraits from pics. I settled on a Veterinary assistant/student named Melyssa. Her shop is called Ninnerfish and she has a variety of portrait options ranging from ACEO size on heavy watercolor paper (2.5x3.5") for ~$18 to 16"x20" canvas for $150. They are exceptionally reasonably priced especially when you look at the quality of her work.

I ordered a triptych of ACEOs and had them framed - it is like having a series of scenes of my friend that I can look at whenever and are beautifully made enough so that they are truely artwork that I will treasure all of my life. I also got Jezzi4Ever to make a bunch of bottlecap magnets with little cameos of my kitty on them which is a nice reminder whenever I'm magneting something to my fridge.

I'm so sorry for your loss.
posted by arnicae at 4:01 PM on June 1, 2008

sara is disenchanted - I am so sorry for your loss. First, go easy on yourself. It is always very difficult to grieve properly for a pet - you feel stupid telling people that you are bawling over a dog. But take the time to grieve - hold a wake for your dog. Keep her collar and toys (if you put them in a ziploc bag, they will keep her smell, which is very comforting when you want to remember her). I put together a small photo album when our beloved 16-year-old border collie died. We sat up and looked through the album, recalling stories of how intelligent and unique he was, over a glass or two of sherry.

For a longer-term memorial, I looked at the memorialglass website and these look awfully like Caithness glass from Scotland. You can buy Caithness pieces on eBay quite reasonably and place one on a lighted stand. Like dog food sugar, I also have a little corner where I light a votive candle when I want to remember my dog. I have a little tryptich photo frame from Target, with my favorite photos of him - grinning at me after a long chase by the reservoir, or grinning at me with that knowing look that said "you only get to the frig through me."

Lastly, seconding ceri richard's suggestion that you think of adopting another rescue dog -- in time. At first, it seems awfully disloyal to think of a replacement. But one's house is lonely without a dog and there are so many who are euthanized each week for lack of adoptive homes. I lasted for 3 months before I caved - our new addition cheered us up so much, I am really glad that I did. See for lists of dogs in your area - you can search by breed, when you are ready.
posted by Susurration at 6:39 PM on June 1, 2008

A little update:

I truly appreciate all of your stories and kind wishes. The above selections are all quite excellent; I'm going to attempt to start doing some research on which (if not many) path/s to take. I've placed a photo and frame with her collar on the mantle, in a spot where I hope to place her in the future.

dog food sugar, your reference to former threads was spot on; those are some of the threads I read before I posted my question.

I don't know about her paw prints; I kind of had to take her to the emergency vet, as my vet isn't open on Sundays, and the emergency folks didn't really offer any other services other than contacting the crematorium. I would have loved to have had them.

As for another dog, my husband and I had the good fortune to have another rescue dog find us this past January, and we love him very much. He's watched over Ginger, and protected me since he jumped in our car that night. Rocky's a five year old rat terrier/bulldog mix, and he's a hoot. We really want to get another dog; in fact, we'd love to have as many as we can handle. Unfortunately, our schedules and finances won't allow that at this time, but we definitely want to get MORE rescues, hopefully another beagle.

Again, I really want to extend my thank yous to all of you. I couldn't ask to be a part of a more supportive family.
posted by sara is disenchanted at 7:39 PM on June 1, 2008

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