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Memorialization

Dedicated to and in loving memory of Barney

Dr. Leah M. Hertzel, Class of 1991, UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine

Below are a variety of ideas for memorializing a pet. The ideas were contributed by volunteers of the Pet Loss Support Hotline at the University of California at Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine. I was inspired to create this when I learned of the impending death of my beloved cat Barney. Barney died on June 30,1990.

  • Take lots of photographs and, when you think you've taken enough, take some more. Use the photos to fill an album, place them in your pet's favorite spots in the house, make a collage with them, fill a multi-picture frame with them, carry pictures in your wallet.
  • Write a poem, story, song etc. about and/or dedicated to your pet.
  • Write down your special memories of your pet. Add stories or anecdotes from friends and family. Alternatively make a tape recording of the same thing.
  • Chronicle your pet's life with photos and/or by keeping a journal.
  • Write a letter to your pet expressing feelings you may be struggling with.
  • Videotape your pet doing anything and everything-eating, sleeping, playing or just sitting there.
  • Make something that reminds you of your pet, e.g. a drawing, a clay sculpture, a needlework project, etc.
  • Have a professional portrait, sketch, sculpture done of your pet. This can be done after the pet's death from a photograph. You can also have a photo of your pet transferred to a T-shirt, clock, button, or mug. (Check advertisements in magazines like Dog Fancy and Cat Fancy for sources.)
  • Keep baby teeth, whiskers, fur (from shaved areas) and place them in a locket.
  • For horses, save shoes, tail and mane hairs.
  • Have fur spun to make yarn in order to knit/crochet something in memory of your pet (See article in March, 1990 Dog Fancy.) Pet needs to have medium-to-long hair.
  • Keep pet tags. Place these on a key ring so you will always be carrying the memory of your special friend with you.
  • Have a plaque made to honor your pet. Place it in a special place-next to your pet's ashes, on a tree near where your pet was buried, in the hospital where your pet was cared for, etc.
  • Volunteer your time at a humane organization and/or help find homes for strays and unwanted pets.
  • Help your veterinarian and pet loss counselor start a pet loss support group in your area.
  • Plant a bush, shrub, tree, or flowers over or near location where body or ashes are buried.
  • Place a bench with an engraved nameplate or an inscription beside where your pet is buried.
  • Place ashes in a potted houseplant.
  • Collect pet's collars, tags, bowls, blankets, etc. and place them in a special area in honor of your pet. You can also place ashes, sympathy cards, etc. with them.
  • Send out announcements of your pet's death to those who were close to you and your pet.
  • If your pet is not buried near you, take pictures of your pet's grave and place these in a special spot, which you can "visit."

Butler/Lagoni, 1994, Changes: The Support for People and Pets Program Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital

GRIEF ARTICLES