The last goodbye: Part 2

By Tracie Korol

Planning ahead for the inevitable involves knowing what you wish to do with your pet’s body once he has passed.  For some, once the animal is gone, the body is just a physical reminder and the final resting place is less of a concern. For others, burial or cremation is a way to honor and remember a beloved Best Friend.
The least costly option is to take a pet’s body home and bury him — local ordinances and other considerations taken into account. The grave needs to be deep enough to deter marauding animals from disturbing the body and keep the grave from being unearthed in heavy rains. As we were living in a place my lab Tucker never called home, he was buried next to his friend Moses at the edge of a meadow where they, as friends, would sniff deer trails for hours on end.  My cat, Oblio, was laid to rest in the side yard; we planted a pussy willow to serve as her marker.
Unfortunately, one of the significant downsides to this is today’s mobile society. Many of us don’t live forever in the same place so leaving a behind a beloved companion might not work for some individuals. It still bothers me. Tucker and Mercy are in Vermont, Sherman is with his dad and Oblio is in Ohio. I have Dave and Bea’s remains with me by virtue of cremation.
Another good reason for planning ahead is to have the opportunity to research the company providing the cremation service and feel comfortable that your dog’s body — and you — will be treated with care and compassion. Most veterinary clinics offer cremation services wherein a representative from a crematory picks up the pets body from the clinic, then returns the ashes to the clinic or directly to the owner.  We are lucky to have a pet crematory in the area — Good Shepherd Pet Service in Ridgeland — that gave me the option of personally seeing Bea to her final destination.
When Bea died, a caring friend drove us both to Ridgeland for the final goodbye.  Bea had a private cremation but Good Shepherd also offers a “community cremation” in which the remains of several pets are cremated together.  Good Shepherd explained that each animal is tagged with a metal tag so that even in a community cremation, if you desire, the remains you receive will be those of your animal.
Some people like to scatter their pets’ ashes (or cremains) someplace special — where they liked to play, at the beach or where they liked to rest in the sun — or simply bring them home. My father made a beautiful box for Dave’s remains. I had asked him to make a box for Bea as well but when I picked up Bea at Good Shepherd, they had already placed her in the perfect container. You see, Bea was a sort of flamboyant beagle, dramatic and a little quirky. Good Shepherd sent her home in a red brocade chest with a large button tassel. Perfect.  This little consideration was a small hallmark of the extraordinary kindness and compassion shown to me by this company.
Our relationships with our pets are as unique as our relationships with the various people in our lives. Grief is a natural and normal response to a significant loss, and while painful, it is also a healing process. Some of us will have a harder time than others.  Some friends will understand while others won’t. Seek out those whom you respect and who have dealt with the loss of a pet. Distance yourself, temporarily, from those who do not understand that your pet was a family member and who tell you to “get over it.”
As a society we grieve poorly. We expect people to move on very quickly. When you lose a pet, allow yourself time to deal with it. Don’t let societal pressure make you think, “it’s just a pet”. It’s not. It’s your Best Friend.

BowWOW! Is a production of Tracie Korol and wholeDog. Tracie is a holistic behavior coach, a canine massage therapist (CCMT), herbalist, and canine homeopath.  Want more information? Have a question? Send a note to Tracie at letstalk@wholedog.biz or visit www.wholedog.biz.

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