National Pet Memorial Day

More than 40 years ago, the International Association of Pet Cemeteries and Crematories created National Pet Memorial Day, held on the second Sunday in September, to honor pets both past and present. Pets, in their many shapes, forms, and personalities, undoubtedly and significantly impact our lives and hearts. To celebrate these wonderful furry family members after their passing, we can pay tribute to them in a number of ways. Here are a few:

  1. Ashes. A number of sites offer an impressive array of urns, boxes, and other containers, including jewelry in which your pet’s remains can be stored and cherished.
  2. Photos. Take a particularly memorable or professional photo of your pet, have it framed, and place it where it will bring you comfort. Showcase a collection of representative photos (pets doing different activities, at different ages, at special locations, etc.) in a scrapbook, collage, or matted collection.
  3. Portrait. Get your pet’s portrait painted! Often pet portrait artists work off a good photograph, so this ties in nicely with #2.
  4. Get crafty. Ideas: transferring a pet’s photo onto a needlepoint canvas or painting ceramics.
  5. Write it down. You compose a poem, a letter (to your pet or “from” your pet), a chronicle of your pet’s life, or a written family project. The point is to express your feelings and memories of your furry companion.
  6. Cyberspace. You can post your tribute online. A number of sites offer this service for free too. On social media, you can share photos, written tributes, and your memories. Use the hashtag #NationalPetMemorialDay.
  7. Plant a tree or shrub. For example, Treegivers offers the service of planting a tree in your pet’s name. You can also plant a tree or special plant, like catnip, in a memorial garden or city park.

When Nala and Boudicca passed, I had their ashes placed in a nice box and set their collars on top of the boxes. I put Nala’s box in the living room overlooking her usual spot while I put Boudicca’s box on a shelf in my office overlooking her office supurrviser spot (her bed). I also have a bit of Queen B’s fur in a sachet.

Listed above are only a handful of ways you can remember your beloved pet. There are many more specialized ways of doing this. For example, my mother made a lovely memorial collage quilt composed of the bandannas the Schnauzers received after they were groomed. Be creative! For more information, check out tips from Pet Loss, the Dog People, UF’s Small Animal Hospital, and the Huffington Post.

How have you memorialized your pets? How do you celebrate and remember your pets past and present? Share in the comments!

Farewell to Boudicca

Shortly before 3 o’clock on Friday afternoon, my beloved Queen Boudicca Mata Hari Sophia passed from this life and found peace. It was dreadfully sad. Boudicca was terminally ill with multiple chronic, incurable, and progressing medical conditions, and she was suffering as a result. I had to to be her advocate and, out of love and duty, I had to act on her behalf and end that pain. The tears flowed and ebbed. Boudicca passed painlessly away, hopefully with the knowledge that her human family loved her fiercely.

I knew this day was coming and began to prepare myself mentally and emotionally weeks beforehand. I had to make a hard choice but in the end it was the right one, and I don’t regret that choice. Her human mother–me, the human she chose all those years ago at the ASPCA–loved her enough to let her go.

Afterward, everything seemed surreal and out of focus. Happysad feelings are difficult to articulate in coherent sentences. I felt a sinking feeling in my chest–sadness and loss. At some point, relief trickled over me. Comfort knowing that Boudicca was in good company with the rest of my family’s pets that have gone over the Rainbow Bridge. Gratitude for the 18 years of loving companionship and joy that she brought to my life.

It still feels mildly surreal to accept that my sweet baby girl no longer lives among us. Her pink beds lie empty, vacant thrones upon which Queen Boudicca lay in languid repose. In the evening, the boys aren’t interested in or know how to enjoy lap time yet. Charlie, for example, would probably enjoy it quite a bit but he’s rather wiggly. The boys certainly like to snuggle with one another but they’re not snugglebugs with humans yet. We’re working on that. I love Charlie and Garrus deeply (every pet in my house always winds up slightly over-loved) but they do not and will not replace Boudicca.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of little things I will miss about her. Without fail, Boudicca greeted me when I came home, yammering and dancing around my feet until I picked her up. She turned into a limp slinky accordion cat when held. Her purr rumbled, punctuated with trills, when she was filled with lazy contentment (or feline entitlement), especially when I kissed her in between the ears. I would sometimes wake up with her camped out on my chest in a smug cat loaf. I miss her quirks, like when she went through a kleptomaniac phase and repeatedly stole my grandmother’s light blue mohair scarf, complete with matching hat and gloves, and absconded with them to her tower. She became an early riser and pawed me awake. Her eyes turned lantern bright Maleficent-esque green, as though she was plotting nefarious deeds and how to take over the world…just as soon as she finished her nap. She sprawled across books and newspapers and refused to budge. She explored new boxes with relish or took her responsibilities seriously when testing a crocheted blanket for softness and nappability. When I spoke on the phone, Boudicca contributed her two cents to the conversation. Queen B was an excellent reading buddy, especially on quiet rainy days.

Rest in peace, Queen B. I love you.

P.S. I am very grateful for all my friends and family that reached out to me and offered me hugs, comfort, and condolences. Your kindness and thoughtfulness is truly touching. Thank you.