September 13th is National Pet Memorial Day, which hits home to anyone who has lost a loved animal friend. Whether its been 10 days or 10 years, losing a beloved pet is never easy. My family’s dog, Katie, a black Australian kelpie and greyhound mix passed away in April. Every time I go to my parents’ home I feel like I can hear the jangle of her tags and wish she could sleep with me one more night. We had so many good memories that I decided it was time to commemorate her and acknowledge the loss that we had.
What prompted this thinking was a trip to Edinburgh, Scotland. What a long way to travel for a wake up call! When in Scotland, I visited the Edinburgh Castle where they have a dog cemetery that is built into the remains of a medieval tower and has been used as a burial ground for officer’s dogs and regimental mascots since the 1840’s. That is an exceptional way to show appreciation for the dogs in Scotland’s military. It had me thinking of ways that we can memorialize our loved pets, like my Katie, that would showcase the love they bring out in us.
8 Ways To Reminisce Loved Pets:
1) Mini Me Statue
This may seem like an odd one, but at my house we have little ceramic statues of the four pets that we have lost, three cats and Katie. When we get a new pet we look around for a small statue that looks like them to have at the house. Right now Katie’s collar is placed around her mini me. The statues symbolize their place in our hearts and they get to put the stamp of approval on it if you get one when your pets are still alive.
2) Clay Paw Print
We see our pets’ dirty paws over every surface, so why not get something to remember their exact print? When I was young, my dad extended our concrete patio in the backyard. The only reason I remember this is because my brothers and I were able to create hand prints in the wet concrete. I wish I could go see it now since my brothers and I are all grown up. This made me realize what a nice keepsake it would be to have a clay paw print from your pet. It is a small keepsake, but would easily move with you, unlike a section of concrete patio.
We all have a favorite picture of our beloved companion, so why not have an artist take that picture and turn it into a painting? You can get a pet portrait, watercolor or acrylic, full painting, or even something funny! It all depends on how you want to remember your furry friend. Shhhh, nobody tell my mum though! I just decided this is what I am getting her for Christmas, so I will have to keep her away from this post.
4) Photo Book
When you have a pet, sometimes you take more pictures of them than anyone else! Why not take all of those photos and create a photo book? My mum does this every year for the me and my brothers and it is really cool to have that physical representation of a year gone. Next to the photos, you can also write about what you loved about your pet. Activities like this can help to get the feelings off of your chest when you lose a beloved pet.
5) Shadow Box
Once your pet is gone, they have all of their leftover belongings like toys and collars. A cute project to do with your family would be to grab all of their favorite things and put them into shadow box. You can also insert pictures, a clay paw print, your writings about them, and many other things. The options are limitless. It is a good exercise for you and your family to do together that can really focus on the positive memories of your pet.
What do you do with your pet once they are gone? We decided to bury Katie since there is a pet cemetery that we used to run by with her everyday. I would take her on walks there too and thought it was the perfect place. You can find a pet cemetery near you or bury in the backyard to keep them close. Once you do bury them a good way to remember the spot and their lives is to plant a bush, flower patch or tree, bringing life from their time with you.
7) Decorate an Urn
Another option is to cremate them and put them in an urn. Decorating an urn with pictures, or the like, is another activity that can be cathartic. This helps us let go and grab the most unforgettable memories we have. You can either choose to then bury the urn or keep it with you as a remembrance of their love.
8) Contribute to a Charitable Organization
This is a great way to give back. When you have lost a loved one, helping other pets in need can help get you through your grief. We rescued Katie and now I am fostering dogs while they wait for their forever homes. It’s very rewarding and helps me when I am missing her. You can’t help but love the pets that come through shelters and the experience of helping them is healing.
Have you lost a treasured pet? How have you memorialized them? Tell us in the comments below.