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Fur-Ever in Our Hearts

Updated: Aug 10, 2023

Honoring our furry friends after they cross the rainbow bridge

Bird Illustration by Tobias Crabtree.

Illustration by Tobias Crabtree.

The History Of Pet Memorials

For centuries, humans have been keeping pets as companions and loyal friends. Whether it is a cat, dog, turtle, horse or any other animal, pets have brought joy, love, and happiness to our lives. When these beloved pets pass away, it is only natural for their owners to want to honor their memory. This is where pet memorials come in. Throughout history, pet memorials have taken many forms, from simple markers to elaborate statues and tombs. Let’s see how they have evolved over time.

Ancient Rituals for Animal Souls

In ancient times, pets were often seen as valuable and even revered companions and were frequently honored with elaborate rituals and memorials. One of the earliest and most well-known cultures to exalt their pets after death was ancient Egypt. Cats particularily, were considered sacred and were often mummified and buried with their owners. The Egyptians believed that pets had souls and that they would continue to serve their owners in the afterlife. In fact, the oldest known pet cemetery, dating back over 2,000 years, was discovered near the ancient city of Berenike, Egypt. The cemetery contained the remains of over 100 "lovingly positioned creatures", including dogs, cats, and even two monkeys. The Egyptians also created elaborate pet memorials in the form of statues and reliefs. One of the most famous examples is the Great Sphinx of Giza, which has the head of a human and the body of a lion. While it is unclear whether the Sphinx was intended to honor a specific pet or simply to symbolize the strength and power of the pharaoh, it is clear that animals played a significant role in Egyptian art and culture.

Today, at the Summum Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, they offer modern mummification services for both humans and pets. Their bizarre process involves removing the internal organs, replacing them with a preservative fluid, and drying the body with a special salt mixture. The body is then wrapped in layers of cotton gauze and covered with a layer of polyurethane. Mummification at the Summum Center is not a scientific process, but rather they believe, a spiritual practice based on the idea that mummification can help individuals and their pets achieve a higher state of consciousness.

The Rise of the Pet Memorial in the Victorian Era.

The Victorian era, which spanned from 1837 to 1901, was a time of great social and cultural change. During this period, attitudes towards death changed the way people approached funerals. The increasing emphasis on personal and public displays of grief led to the development of elaborate mourning customs and rituals, which included wearing black clothing, the use of mourning jewelry, and the creation of elaborate funeral processions. As the middle class grew in size and wealth, pets were increasingly seen as members of the family. As a result, the popularity of pet memorials grew in strength. Many of the used symbols were borrowed from human funerary art. One of the most popular ones was the image of a sleeping dog or cat. It represented the idea that the pet was simply sleeping and would one day wake up and be reunited with its owner. Another factor that influenced the popularity of pet memorials was the rise of sentimentalism. Sentimentalism was a cultural movement that emphasized emotion and feeling over reason and logic. It was also a time of great technological and scientific advancement. As photography became more accessible, it became easier to capture images of pets and use them in pet memorials. Similarly, advances in sculpture and other forms of art made it easier to create elaborate and detailed forms of memory. The first known Pet Cemetery in America was in Hartsdale NY, with the first recorded Canine being buried by the Veterinary Samuel Johnson in 1896. The same cemetery buried over 80,000 pets on five acres of land and including horses, rabbits, dogs and cats monkeys, and even a lion.

Pet Memorials Today

Nowadays, as pets are integrated into our families, the ways in which we memorialize them have become more personalized. What can be observed is that digital memorials are making their way into mainstream consciousness, allowing pet owners to create permanent online tributes. Some of the most common types include social media platforms, online memorial services as well as virtual memorials. These services often include options to upload photos and videos and share stories in memory of the pet. They can be interactive, allowing visitors to leave messages or light candles. Digital pet memorials also offer a way for pet owners to connect with others who have experienced similar losses, providing a sense of community and support. They can be less expensive than burial or cremation services. However, there are also some drawbacks including not providing the same level of closure as traditional memorials. For some pet owners, having a physical element, such as a gravestone or urn, can be an important part of overcoming grief.

The laws regarding being buried with pets in the United States can vary depending on the state and local jurisdiction. In some states, there are specific laws that prohibit the burial of pets with humans. For example, in New York, it is illegal to be buried with a pet unless the pet cemetery is licensed by the state. It is important to check it before making any plans. There are alternative options available for those who are unable to be buried with their pets, including interring their pet’s ashes or using a pet cemetery.

Fur-Ever in Our Hearts

From ancient pet memorials to the modern digital era, people have sought ways to honor and remember their beloved animal companions. Looking to the future, they will continue to evolve and change as new technologies and cultural practices emerge. As people become more attuned to the importance of individual expression and the unique transspecies bond they will seek out new and creative ways. It is promising that sustainability will come into play on a regular basis. Concerns about the environment and the impact of human activity on the planet continue to grow, and people will be increasingly mindful of the ecological footprint. We may see an increase in natural, biodegradable materials like bamboo or recycled plastics, as well as a focus on carbon-neutral production and distribution methods. Nevertheless, if it is a beautiful sculpture or a high-tech virtual reality experience, or planting a tree in your pet's name, the pet memorials of the future will be a testament to the enduring power of love because they are fur-ever in our hearts.


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2 comentarios

Thomas  "Teejay" Joel
Thomas "Teejay" Joel
25 feb 2023

In my opinion, mummification interrupts the true cycle of life. We are to be returned to the earth. I am not even sure about cremation or embalming. In many cases like when my cat Violet died, the chemicals used to help her with the transition with ease, will remain toxic to other animals for up to 6-months, and therefor a deep burial is required - so that not ideal.

Because of the space we have left, cremation seems like the best method in my book. Can ashes be considered a return the cycle of life? Is ash a form of fertilization to help other organics grow? It is.

Ash is also a good source of potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium. In…

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Thomas  "Teejay" Joel
Thomas "Teejay" Joel
25 feb 2023

Beautiful artwork of that Dachshund!

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