American author Agnes Sligh Turnbull once wrote, “Dogs’ lives are too short. Their only fault, really.” For those of us who have had a lifetime of beloved pets, we understand that sentiment all too well. And yet, even though we know when we get a new dog or cat that we will have limited time, we open our hearts to our animals anyway. Even though it is painful to lose them, to have never loved them at all would be even worse. And so, over time, many of us have lived with multiple pets who were all our best friends and family members. In this blog post, we will talk about World Pet Memorial Day and ways to celebrate and memorialize our pets who have passed away.
What is World Pet Memorial Day?
World Pet Memorial Day occurs on the second Tuesday each June. This day was created by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) to be a time for pet owners to celebrate and remember pets who have passed away.
Losing a pet is a unique experience that non-pet lovers do not understand. As a result, it can be hard for pet owners to fully grieve a loss of a cat or dog and receive the support they need. Additionally, the loss of a pet is unique in that our pets rely on us for their care from the time they are young all the way through their senior years. In many instances, we experience their entire lives with them, from start to finish, in a quite different dynamic from what we share with the humans in our lives.
Celebrating a pet life who has passed away has psychological benefits to help with such unique grief. According to Psychology Today, when you “allow your body to experience a different emotion and help bring you from pain into gratitude for the time spent together over time.” Whether the pet has passed away recently or in years past, it can be comforting to create memorials so that their presence is always felt even if they are not physically present.
Ways to Memorialize Your Pet
There are many ways to memorialize your pet to keep them close to your heart. Here are some meaningful ways to keep the memories of your pets with you after they have passed away.
1. Commission a Painting of Your Pet
Many artists accept commissions, which are requests for specific pieces of artwork. A commissioned pet portrait will give you a stunning piece of artwork that you can hang in a prominent place in your home. You can also display other items near the painting, such as your pet’s collar and tags in a shadowbox, a favorite framed photograph, or their ashes on a table under the portrait.
If you do not have a favorite artist, you can find many artists who specialize in pet portraits through an internet search. Once you have chosen an artist, it is important to share as many good-quality photographs as possible so that the artist can see the detail in your pet’s features. You should also include photographs that convey your pet’s personality. This will help the artist create a memorable piece of art for you.
2. Get a Tattoo of Your Pet
Once considered somewhat taboo, tattoos have become a meaningful way of memorializing lost loved ones. Getting a tattoo to memorialize your pet is an extremely therapeutic way of keeping them close to you forever. In fact, mental health expert Dan Reidenberg explained the benefits of memorial tattoos in an article in The Huffington Post. In the article, he explained, “Memorial tattoos help keep someone we lost close to us. Literally, they become part of us.”
Some ideas for memorial tattoos of your pet include your pet’s paw print, their name, their portrait, or a paw with an infinity sign. Because tattoos are a permanent part of your body, it is important to research different tattoo artists to find one whose style you like. When researching a tattoo artist to do a pet memorial tattoo, make sure you find someone who is experienced with good lines and shading and adheres to strict hygiene rules. The best designs come from skilled artists who are given some artistic license to create a truly special design based on your photos and input.
3. Turn Your Pet’s Ashes into Jewelry
Turning a pet’s cremated remains into jewelry is another way to keep your pet’s memories physically close to you. Although this option can be expensive and not for everyone, the way it works is that ashes are heated to over 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit so that they become a gemstone. The gemstone can then be put into a setting for a ring or necklace that you can wear.
A less expensive option is to have your pet’s ashes mixed with glass or metal and turned into a piece of jewelry. You can find a variety of jewelry makers and artisans who perform this function. Another alternative to having your pet’s cremation turned into jewelry is to purchase a piece of jewelry that holds their ashes or a small amount of their fur in a capsule.
4. Plant a Tree
Honor your passed fur friend by planting a tree. Plant it indoors, outdoors, or in your pet’s favorite spot. Catch a whiff of its fragrance wherever it blooms or sits in its shade and feel your pet’s presence. You can also use kits or tools that use your pup’s ashes to grow a tree from seed.
Adopting Another Pet After One Passes Away
World Pet Memorial Day is also a day to encourage people to open their homes and hearts to another pet so that another cat or dog can experience the love and care of a dedicated pet owner. Although it is painful to go through the loss of a pet, there are many pets in need of loving, competent humans to care for them.
The most important thing to remember is that you are not replacing the pet who has passed. That pet will always have his/her own unique place in your life and your heart. You will still tell stories of that pet and think of them often. But adopting a new pet can save another animal’s life and make your life that much brighter. The pet who has passed away would have wanted you to be happy and have that sort of love in your life again.