In the Western world pet funerals, private burials and cremations are commonplace nowadays. But twenty-odd years ago, this was not the case – and things differ around the world, too.
So, how are pets celebrated and memorialised around the world? Read on to find out…
Owning a pet is seen as somewhat of a privilege in Japan due to the high cost of living as well as tight building restrictions. Therefore, those who are lucky enough to own a pet treat them with the utmost care and respect – and this extends to their death and after-death care as well. In fact, due to the Buddhist belief that animals have souls, when a pet dies within a Japanese family, it is almost treated like the death of a child.
When a pet passes away in Japan, their parents have a few options to choose from, including a cremation either at a shrine, a specialised facility or at home. If a pet is cremated at a temple, the family can gather, light incense, pray (and receive prayers from the monks) and farewell their pet in a ritualistic manner. Afterwards, the pet may be laid to rest in a temple such as Jindaiji Temple, where the Buddhist saint Junishi Kanzeou Bosatsu guards over the animals. Jindaiji also has indoor vaults, where families can keep an urn and other important objects such as offerings of food and treats. The respect for life as well as the recognition of death make pet memorials in Japan deeply spiritual and reflective.
With its art nouveau gates visible from the Seine, Cimetière des Chiens et Autres Animaux Domestiques (“Cemetery for Dogs and Other Domestic Animals”) is the largest pet necropolis in Europe, perhaps even the world. In place of looming mausoleums are stone dog houses, while toys rest upon headstones and wonderfully ornate statues appear around every corner.
Aside from dogs hundreds of cats, horses, birds, rabbits, turtles, mice, hamsters, fish, a gazelle, a monkey, a lion, a sheep and many more animals have been buried in this late 1800s cemetery, which also features curious details such as tombstones that act as steps and a dog’s grave where tennis balls are encased in a clear sphere.
Throughout the cemetery appears the epitaph Je ne t’oublierai jamais – “I will not forget you.”
Established in 1896 over 70,000 pets are interred in Hartsdale Pet Cemetery, the oldest pet cemetery in all of America. Across its five acres are buried dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, reptiles, monkeys, horses, a lion and even some humans, and graves for pets of the rich and famous. Actors and entertainers including Mariah Carey and Diana Ross have had pets buried at Hartsdale, which also holds memorials for dogs that served in World War I, Laika the space dog, and search and rescue dogs from the Oklahoma city bombing and the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Other memorials and epitaphs have been erected simply for the joy that a pet brought their owner, and as such Hartsdale’s lawns are crowded with touching remembrances of pets that have passed.
The famous statue dedicated to a dog known as Hachiko stands in the bustling area of Shibuya, Japan. Hachiko was an Akita dog that belonged to Hidesaburo Ueno, a professor at Tokyo Imperial University, whom Hachiko would greet at Shibuya station each day after Ueno had finished work. However, on May 21st 1925, Ueno suddenly passed away while at work from a cerebral haemorrhage. Showing the utmost loyalty to his master, Hachiko would return to the station every day for the following ten years, until he passed away on March 8th 1935.
The subject of a 1995 animated film, Balto was a Siberian Husky sled dog who led a team on the final leg of the 1925 serum run from Nenana to Nome, Alaska. The serum run had taken place to transport precious diphtheria serum to the small town of Nome after it was cut off by the harsh winter weather. Balto’s team along with a relay of others were summoned to transport the serum where trains and planes could not go, saving Nome from an epidemic and ultimately saving many lives.
A bronze statue raised in Balto’s likeness now stands in Central Park in New York City and reads, “Dedicated to the indomitable spirit of the sled dogs that relayed antitoxin 600 miles over rough ice, across treacherous waters, through arctic blizzards, from Nenana to the relief of stricken Nome.”
Gelert was a hunting hound that belonged to the 13th century prince Llywelyn the Great and was a gift from England’s King John. Known to be loyal and faithful, Gelert was Llywelyn’s favourite hound. However, when the prince and his princess set out for the day’s hunt together, they returned to find their baby missing and Gelert’s muzzle bloodied. In despair for both the dog and his child, Llywelyn drew his sword and killed Gelert on the spot. As soon as he did however, he heard the cries of his baby from a dark corner of the room, and came to discover a massive wolf that had been killed by Gelert to defend the child. Gelert was eventually immortalised in the name the village is known by today Beddgelert.
An Australian pet this time! Trim was a cat born at sea on a ship called Reliance that was on a voyage between the Cape of Good Hope and Botany Bay. He was then adopted by Captain Matthew Flinders, the English cartographer who led the second circumnavigation of Australia in 1801. Trim sailed with Flinders until 1803, when he went missing on the island of Mauritius and was never seen again. Trim’s bronze statue now stands outside the Mitchell Library in the heart of Sydney.
The plaque underneath the statue reads:
“TO THE MEMORY OF
The best and most illustrious of his race
The most affectionate of friends,
faithful of servants,
and best of creatures
He made the tour of the globe, and a voyage to Australia,
which he circumnavigated, and was ever the
delight and pleasure of his fellow voyagers”
We were thrilled at the care & love that was shown to us, and our beautiful little Paris (dog) pre her cremation!! Had no dramas what so ever in relation to them taking care of Paris after we said goodbye to her at the Vets Hospital in Springwood! Loved how we got a death certificate, a seed to plant in her honour, & other little mementos of her, that came in a lovely folder!! Also loved how they delivered her to our home, the gentleman dressed in a lovely suit & he was wearing white gloves!! A truly nice touch I thought!! This was 2 years ago! Was recommending them to my niece who sadly is putting their much loved Bailey (dog) to sleep today, 3/6/17!! Was reading thru some of the reviews so thought I would post a positive for Pets in Peace!
We will forever be grateful to Pets in Peace for the care and understanding when our Maybe passed. It was a tough time for us and the way they handled it was with the highest respect and understanding. We are very happy to have our baby home now and are extremely happy in this sad time with the service we received. I would also like to thank Eddy the gentleman who came out and collected our sweet girl for his work and the care taken with Maybe. In this time of sorrow it is so great to know that there are people there to help with decision with such understanding. Thank you again. Will have no problem recommending your service to anyone that may need it.
Thank you so much! I couldn’t recommend pets in peace enough. Our little Bowzer crossed the rainbow bridge and we have something so beautiful to keep with us forever. I found all your staff to be compassionate, helpful and patient with us while we not only processed our little boy leaving this earth but also deciding on all on the arrangements. We thank you for being so understanding and nothing was ever too hard even when we requested a particular white paw to be printed. Thank you again.
Absolutely recommend Pets in Peace. They were so kind, respectful, professional and compassionate. Every step in the process was well-considered to support the owner during a difficult time. The team went out of their way to handle my beautiful pet in a thoughtful & considerate way, and gave me the support, time and opportunity to say good bye & grieve. Losing a pet is awful, but Pets in Peace made the whole thing a bit more bearable & helped me honour my pet’s memory.
We would like to thank you all from the bottom of our hearts for the absolute care and dignity shown to ALL our family members during the passing of our two puppies that you have cared for. My children and grandchildren asked me to pass on their appreciation to Jeremy who cared for Zorro, he went above and beyond and Tracy who I spoke with during our most recent experience was professional and personal at the same time which is often difficult to achieve in difficult times! We can’t recommend you highly enough and will be returning when the need arises in the future.
Dear Martin & Bev,
We just wanted to follow-up on our thank you card from yesterday to say how much we have valued the sensitive and compassionate service we received from all the staff of Pets In Peace. From the moment of our initial email inquiry two weeks ago to the safe delivery of Akimi’s ashes to us yesterday, we have always felt we were in safe and professional hands. We received expert care in every stage of the process.
We have no doubt that the moment Akimi was taken into care by Pets in Peace, she would have been treated with the same dignity and respect we were with each email and phone contact. I spoke and emailed with Abbey several times and she was always calm, professional, and very caring in our time of grief and loss. Abbey took the time to listen to our needs and recommended a service appropriate to that. Please thank her for us; she is definitely a credit to you. Also the time the driver spent chatting with me yesterday was deeply appreciated; my apologies as I have forgotten his name. But he did not simply drop the ashes and run but took the time to have a personal interaction and talk to me as one who understood what I was going through. That will not be forgotten.
And the sensitive, caring, and secure way Akimi’s ashes were returned to us was very comforting. The sealed scatter box with the ashes inside a sealed bag within a velvet bag in the box. And on a bed of pink tissue paper. We loved the engraved plaque and the sensitive cremation certificate and a gold paw print. And her lock of hair will be treasured. Such attention to detail and care with these mementos is deeply appreciated. We can’t thank you all enough for making such a difficult and traumatic time that much easier for us.
We scattered Akimi’s ashes this morning in the garden below our balcony, along with some yellow rose petals. Just a simple and short ceremony with the two of us, and she is now at rest. And the gorgeous engraved plaque has been affixed to a lovely frame with the photo of Akimi in it. And today we registered a star in her name with the International Star Registry. She may be gone from us physically, but her light will never fade in our lifetime.
Once again, we can’t thank you enough for being there for us when we needed you.
David and Rob