When the Barking Stops: 17 Ways to Memorize Your Dog
This guide will introduce ways to memorialize the dogs.
The loss of a beloved dog, especially one that has been our almost constant companion all its life, is one of the most painful experiences that we ever encounter in our lives.
This is not a happy topic, but it always happens.
I have lost three dogs in my lifetime. Oscar, my miniature wire-haired Dachshund was snatched from me when he ran under a car when I was only 12 years old.
I was so distraught that it took me more than 30 years before I could face the responsibility of having another dog. It is with great joy that I did.
But sadly pets cannot survive as long as the average human and Otto, my first Chocolate Labrador and a real emperor of a dog, passed away when he was just 11 years old and I am still smarting from that now – six years later.
When I lost my third dog, Dallas, another Chocolate Labrador, it was completely unexpected:
She went into the hospital for what was supposedly a benign operation and had a heart attack while under anaesthetic while the surgeons were removing a lump in her chest; we were just about to celebrate her seventh birthday.
I was so moved by this that I wrote this poem:
When the barking stops,
It's the silence that is so loud.
The little idiosyncrasies that made
Us smile and scowl have gone.
And the spaces Dallas filled
Have never felt so empty.
People will say that ends are
Beginnings, and wish him well.
But nothing can bring him back.
Nothing can take the sadness away.
Each one of these tragic events has emphasized that, although we humans have developed many rituals for mourning the loss of loved ones, there really are no prescribed equivalents for mourning the death of our beloved pets.
It’s really up to us how we choose to memorialise these furry creatures that take up so much of our lives and leave such a huge hole when they go.
The Final Farewell Is Key to a Lasting Memorial
A lot of dog owners feel that a dignified cremation or burial for their pet is a fitting final act of farewell. They see it as the very last act of love they can offer, and for many, it is also an important act of closure.
There is no doubt that being able to touch, see and say farewell to your pet's body can help in the acceptance that your best friend is really dead, won’t ever be coming back, but is thankfully no longer suffering in any way.
It is an important first step in the memorialising of your pet seeing that their remains are given the same concern, respect and care that they were given when they were alive.
The things to consider in choosing how to say your final farewells are: would you prefer a home burial, a pet cemetery burial, or cremation.
Many people opt to bury their pet at home to keep it close: part of their world, if no longer part of their life. It offers a way for you, your family and friends to celebrate at both a funeral and a memorial service.
Home burials provide opportunities to create permanent memorials, whether this is in the form of grave markers, statues, or a tree planted over the grave as a living.
For many grieving pet owners, choosing a formal cemetery burial seems to be a more fitting tribute than a simple and informal burial at home.
It ensures that the pet's remains will be undisturbed, and cared for in perpetuity.
However, cemetery burials can be costly, but many choose it as a comforting and secure way of handling their beloved pet’s remains.
It also gives you somewhere tranquil to return to every time you want to remember the good times you had with your dog.
If you are not able to bury your dog at home or choose not to go for a cemetery burial but would still a permanent reminder of your pet, and with the opportunity of having your pet's remains in your property, you can opt for a cremation followed by the ashes being returned to you.
This retains the advantage of your pet being kept "at home", but it bypasses any associated health issues.
You can have your pet's ashes put in a decorative urn or otherwise attractive container. My own pets are kept in fine wooden caskets, each one made out of different wood.
Some pet owners scatter their pets’ ashes instead of preserving them. This may be done in the pet's own garden or yard, a place where it lived and played.
Others opt to scatter the ashes in such a way it symbolises setting them "free" for their final journey.
Some veterinarians provide cremation or have links with people who can provide cremation services.
To further memorialise their dogs many, again me included, keep framed photos and painted portraits where they can be seen on a regular basis.
Some donate money or their dog's belongings to a favourite charity. But there are many other ways to create memorable tributes.
For example, on the death of my last two dogs, I planted Forget-Me-Nots in the garden.
These now flower every spring and remind me of the fun I and my dogs had together, especially when we played throwing balls in the garden.
There are many other ways that pet owners have chosen to memorialise the loss of their best friends.
Here are a few of them and some suggestions for others:
1. Write a Poem
Lord Byron, the poet, had the poem he wrote on the death of his dog Boatswain inscribed on Boatswain's tomb at Newstead Abbey, Byron's estate in Nottinghamshire. The dog’s tomb is larger than Byron's own.
2. Make Jewellery with Dog's Teeth
Some have chosen to use their dogs’ teeth to make jewellery. Many jewellers are geared up to make a mould from one of your dog’s teeth.
They can then fashion a silver replica. This can be worn on a bracelet or a necklace. There are other artisans who can create pendants of the dog’s tooth by setting it into glass or resin.
3. A dog Urn
When a dog has been cremated there are so many memorial ideas that can utilise your dog’s ashes. A dog urn is the most common way of memorialising a dog.
There are as many different urns as there are different dogs. Choose from a range of traditional urns, photo urns, or even tree urns.
A dog’s ashes can also be made into diamonds. Many companies are able to turn your dog’s ashes into gemstones by using carbon heated to very high temperatures.
It is common for the buyer to be able to select not just the size, but also the cut and the colour. These diamonds can then be incorporated into pieces of jewellery.
So you could keep your dog’s memory close with a lovely necklace or on your wrist with a bracelet. With some creative thought, you could have your jeweller create beads of stone lava interspersed with paw print charms. Another way of wearing your dog’s memory close to you is with a special memorial ring.
Why not consider something like a keychain as a simple, convenient, and not too expensive keepsake that you can carry with you when you start your car or unlock your home? The keychain could feature flowers, fur, and a small amount of the dog’s cremated remains.
5. Memorize your dog on your skin
The dog’s ashes can also be turned into ink, which can then be used to tattoo a commemorative picture of your dog on your skin.
Even if you don’t use your dog’s ashes for the ink, a tasteful tattoo will mean that your dog will always be with you.
You can opt for something discreet and simple, or have a complete 3D portrait of the pet you adored. Various symbols and images could be placed on your selected part of the body whether it’s on one of your arms, a shoulder, an ankle, or your back for a permanent display.
6. Put Him into a bullet
Another way with your dog’s ashes, particularly if your pet was a gun dog, is to have a bullet or bullets loaded with the ashes. There is a story of two game wardens from Alabama in the US who arrived at the idea when discussing their own eventual deaths.
As a result, they founded a business to put cremated remains into live ammunition.
7. Have A Painted Pet Portrait
A painted pet portrait is a good way of memorialising your pet.
You don’t need to use a professional artist. You could display either a hand-painted image of your late animal or set a photograph in an abstract background.
A custom-made portrait can capture your pet’s distinct personality and features.
Oil paintings are a very popular choice, but there are plenty of other options including charcoal or pencil, and even watercolour. There are many pet portrait artists from whom you can select the style you desire.
A portrait of your dog displayed in pride of place on a prominent wall will allow you to see their wonderful, friendly face every day.
You could also create a space that will speak to their energy, and carry their memory into the rest of your own years with daily reminders. Think of ways you could add pet photos in places throughout your home.
Memorial picture frames for showing off placed on pieces of furniture or the mantelpiece will also help you see your dog each day and give you a pleasant reminder of all the good times you had together. Choose frame designs that suit your pet’s unique personality.
8. Memorizing With His/Her Collar
Memorialising your dog with your dog’s favourite collar is a beautiful way of remembering their life. It allows you to still feel the presence of your dog long after he or she has gone. There are many special products on the market that may be worth looking at.
A collar keepsake frame can be an elegant way of displaying your dog’s collar. You could also display the collar as part of a feature in your garden or yard.
There are some lovely stepping stones on which the collar can encircle and engraving of a touching quote.
9. Dog statues
Dog statues make subtle but sweet memorials that can fit inside or outside your home. If you cannot afford to have your own dog memorialised in stone there are more generic dog sculptures that show dogs peacefully sleeping with delicate angel wings. They can be lovely symbols of remembrance.
Alternatively, there are beautiful figurine statues. Some are hand-painted resin monuments featuring angel wings and engraved words like “devoted” to remind you of how you feel.
10. Canvas photo print
Another memorial idea you can cherish forever is a canvas photo print. There are businesses that can make it easy for your dog’s photo to be converted into a stunning canvas.
11. Keep a Photo Album
When you have many unforgettable images of your best friend, then the best way to display them is in a lovely photo album that you will keep forever. There are many different styles from which to choose.
If you want to keep your dog with you all day long, to make a customized necklace is a good idea.
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Above all are ways to memorize your dog.
The loss of our furry friends is not a small event. They travel by our sides during some of the biggest moments in our recent lives and they have helped make our homes what they are today.
Grieving over the loss of a pet is different for everyone, but finding the best ways of memorializing their love and spirit helps on this painful journey. It can turn sadness into a type of joy.