A very close friend of mine lost her beloved 14+ year old rescue Beagle, “George,” recently. George had his issues and didn’t like to share any of his favorite possessions like his couch, his big boy bed, or his food…you get the picture! But, over time he really seemed to mellow out and ending up being a good little hound dog. He was part of an exclusive Hound Dog Walking Club of WNY (Members: George, Bailey and Gus). That little trooper walked every day until three weeks before his death… He is truly missed by all of us.
My friend and her husband are like many of us “crazy” animal people in that they have taken in and loved unconditionally numerous dogs and cats over their lifetime. They have a burial plot at Pine Rest Pet Cemetery(Crematorium and Funeral Home) located in West Seneca, NY where they have buried ten pets including eight kitties and two dogs over the past 25 years. The plot will also be the final resting place for both of their (ash) remains upon their deaths. This really is a wonderful cemetery that originated sometime before 1915. I felt so at ease in this sacred place where thousands of animals have been laid to rest and their humans have paid homage to them with heartfelt messages on tombstones and markers as far as the eyes can see.
I had the honor of attending George’s burial ceremony at Pine Rest Cemetery and as those close to me would predict I became a bit emotional…not typically the tower of strength in these situations, rather the emotional train wreck!. The Funeral Director walked us to the family plot where George’s ashes (in a lovely wooden box) were placed. A short prayer and blessing were delivered and we all had a moment of silence to honor George’s memory. As my friend said, “this process and the final burial of ashes is a good way for her to have closure.” I was so moved as I walked through this amazing cemetery and saw hundreds of plot markers and headstones, some small and small very large. The list of people who choose to bury there pets at Pine Rest includes many generous hearted ”regular” people like my friend and also some well known Buffalo Sabres hockey players and Buffalo Bills football players as well as a certain NFL hockey team owner! Funny how no amount of money or societal status can separate the deep love and appreciation that many of us share for our precious pets.
We all have different ways of dealing with the loss of our pets. Whether you bury your pet in a pet cemetery or your back yard, have your pets cremated (and plan to have them buried with you…like me), have them preserved by a taxidermist, place their hair or ashes in a piece of jewelry, bury your horse on the property where they lived and thrived for many years…(Mums the word here for all of us!!), or donate their body to science to benefit other animals in the future… it is a very personal decision that none of us takes lightly.
How fortunate we are in WNY because we have several incredibly compassionate resources to help us through the death of our pets and their ultimate resting place. Pet Heaven Funeral Home (and Crematorium) located in Orchard Park, NY will work with people to handle every aspect of the death of their pet including, picking up your pet for cremation or funeral services…even on weekends! There are also pet grieving support groups like The Empty Leash or Life Transitions Center grief counselors to turn to during the difficult process of losing your dearest pet.
So no matter where we live, what we do for a living, or what age, color of skin, or ethnic background we are, we are united in our love and devotion to our pets during there life and when they move on to the “Rainbow Bridge.” May our pain be lessened knowing that there are millions of other people who truly understand our pain and the depths of our grief. We should never feel ashamed or embarrassed to reveal our true feelings of loss…EVER.