By Tracy Line with C. Warner Sills
Most of us consider our pet to be part of the family. And for good reason: Our animals love us unconditionally, rarely complain, and comfort us through the ups and downs of life. It’s time to honor your pet for all he does for you. The ways to pay tribute are plentiful, and you shouldn’t wait until he’s gone to do so. Check out these unique ways to memorialize your favorite four-legged friend.
It’s long been a tradition to pass on the family jewels to the next generation; wearing a loved one’s necklace or ring draws us close to them. Now people with pets can do the same.
LifeGem (www.LifeGem.com), a company in Elk Grove Village, Illinois, creates beautiful gemstones from the remains of your beloved companion. Using a diamond-making machine, the remains are converted into carbon, which is then turned into a gemstone. Customers can choose the size, color, and setting for the stone. Rusty Vanden Biesen, co-founder of LifeGem, recommends grieving pet guardians save some fur or a portion of the remains at the time of passing. “A pet is a significant part of your life. Plan ahead so you have the option, in case you later want a gemstone,” Vanden Biesen says.
Pet lockets are another way to keep your pet close to heart. You’ll find many companies that sell these on the Internet, but purchase one from the Animal Rescue Site (www.TheAnimalRescueSite.com) and it will donate food to shelters and sanctuaries across the U.S. If you want to carry instead of wear your memento, try the Pet’s Pocket Locket (www.ThePetsPocket.com). This locket, created by Betty Lou Davis of North Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, has room for both a picture and a memento of your pet.
Davis says customers enjoy the product’s portability and uniqueness. “You don’t have to wear it but you can take it with you. Many of my customers carry it in their purse.” You can also purchase locket accessories; there is clay to mold your pet’s paw print or an air-tight container that holds fur or pet remains.
The idea of planting a tree or garden in honor of your pet is not a new one. You can take it step further with Petaflorial, a product from Floramorial (www.Floramorial.com). Floramorial converts the ashes (calcium phosphate) of a loved one, human or furry, to orthophosphate, a nutrient that attaches itself to plant life. The result is a nutrient-dense soil to use for planting trees, gardens, or even potted plants, a true living memorial. Company co-founder Roger Strand says families have embraced Petaflorial. “The death of a family pet is often the first death experienced by a child,” Strand says. “It helps pet [guardians] achieve closure and peace.” The Quinlan family, a recent customer, agrees. “Memories sometimes fade, but now I have a clear reminder of [our pet] Anak and her life,” Phillip Quinlan says.
Everyone has a favorite photo of his or her pet; why not make yours into a keepsake? Send your digital photo to St. Louis-based Pets on Rugs (www.PetsOnRugs.com) and it’ll turn it into a beautiful, one-of-a kind memento. Using a specialized manufacturing process, the image is injection-dyed into the rug fibers, meaning the durable, 100 percent nylon rug will never fade.
Likewise, Stones of Glass, can turn your photo into a work of art. Choose from a pet portrait etched in glass, sun catcher, or stained-glass stepping stone. All pieces are custom made; see www.StonesOfGlass.com to find a dealer near you.
Many grieving people choose to lay their pet to rest in a special place in or around their home. Our Pals (www.OurPals.com), a Phoenix-based company, offers a large variety of beautiful urns for your pet’s remains. Clients can choose from brass, bronze, pewter, onyx, ceramic, or rock. Specialty urns contain a place for a photo or engraved plaque. The company also sells caskets and grave markers.
Another solid option is custom made urns like the ones from Sonoma Urns (www.SonomaUrns.com). These hand made urns from acclaimed ceramic designer, Marni Turkel, provides pet guardians with a simple yet elegant way to honor their animal companions for the rest of their lives. The durable ceramic urns come in an array of colors, glazes, and styles and can be made to fit the size of your breed. From the smallest cats to the largest of dog breeds, Sonoma Urns will meet your needs for the proper resting place for your pet.
If you’re looking for something a little more personal, try Jake’s Legacy Custom Made Pet Urns (www.JakesLegacy.com). These custom-made pet urns and busts will commemorate your beloved pet for the long haul. Each hand-sculpted receptacle is molded to look like your dog or cat’s specific breed and can be personalized with custom written collar tags that can display anything from the pet’s years alive to a personal message in remembrance.
Making a contribution to help others is another wonderful way to honor your favorite furry friend while keeping the spirit of rescue and adoption alive. At www.RainbowsBridge.com your pet can become an online Rainbow Resident where you can choose to leave virtual flowers or toys and treats as well as take part in the weekly virtual candle lighting memorial ceremony. A portion of all funds raises by the site are donated quarterly to animal rescue organizations. You can also access the famous poem Rainbow Bridge, a wonderful resource for grieving people through the site. For other ways to give back, check your local phone book for information on area shelters, dog parks, or pet cemeteries. Many are in need of contributions and will list you and your pet’s name in their newsletter as a tribute for your donation.
* Tracy Line is an Indianapolis-based freelance writer whose work has appeared in numerous publications.