Anyone who has owned a dog understands what an impact the death of the pet has on the household. After years of being there to greet everyone when they come home, the wagging tail, soulful eyes, and excited bark are no more. Even so, there is a way to memorialize the four-legged family member and honor the pet's memory. Here are some suggestions for what to do after the cremation takes place and the ashes are delivered to the family.
Holding a Memorial Service
If you consider your pet to be a member of the family, don't feel alone. According to data found in the 2012 edition of the U.S. Pet Ownership & Demographics Sourcebook, 63.2% of owners considered their pets to be family members. What do you do when a family member passes away? You hold a memorial service.
Before any final decision is made about the ashes, hold a service honoring the life of the family dog. The service can be as simple as family members sitting in a circle and sharing favorite memories. If you would like something more formal, remember that clergy in many faiths are willing to officiate at services for animals. Ask the clergy of your local house of worship if this is a possibility. You may be surprised to learn there is actually a rite within that faith tradition that relates directly to the memorialization of family pets.
An Urn for the Ashes
Just as human ashes can be placed in urns, it is possible to do the same with the ashes of your beloved pet. This approach makes it possible to keep the ashes in a place of honor in the home. Consider an urn design that allows for an image of the pet to be sealed on the body of this final resting place. You can also opt for the addition of a plaque inscribed with the name, birth, and death dates of the animal.
Remember that the urn can be passed from one generation to another, allowing the memory of the pet to remain part of the family history. You may also consider the idea of having the urn buried with you when your time comes. Pet lovers have been known to stipulate in their advance funeral arrangements that they wish to be cremated and have the ashes of their deceased pets mixed with their own in a common urn. Discuss these wishes with the family in advance, so there is no confusion about what you want to happen when the time comes.
If you prefer a traditional burial for yourself, find out if the cemetery where you wish to be buried allows urns containing the ashes of pets to be placed in the coffins. With this approach, the urn of your pet can be tucked in the crook of your arm and stand as a testament to the strong bond that existed between you and your dog when both of you were alive.
Spreading the Ashes in a Favorite Location
Did your dog love to take a nap under the oak tree in the back yard? Perhaps the animal would stand watch by the front gate waiting for the kids to come home from school. Choosing to scatter the ashes in a place that was significant to the animal is a gesture that demonstrates respect for the devotion given to the family all those years. For as long as the family members continue to live in the home, they can look at the spot and remember the pet fondly.
An urn is not the only option for the ashes of a beloved pet. Consider the idea of cremation jewelry. It is possible to purchase pendants and other forms of jewelry that contain small amounts of the ashes. If this idea appeals to the family, it is easy enough to purchase pieces for each person in the household. Once the ashes are contained in something like a teardrop pendant, the remaining ashes can be kept in an urn.
Honor your pet in death just as you loved the dog in life. Talk with one of the local cremation services and see what provisions they have for the cremation of pets. You can also click here for more info on cremation. From there, you can consider what to do with the ashes and make the right decision.