Oh, how we wish they would stay with us a little longer. How we wish the bridge was just a bit farther away. Anyone who has ever loved a dog, has lost a dog. And it never gets easier, no matter how many times you’ve loved and lost and loved again.
But maybe, just maybe, the loss can be softened a bit with special ways of remembering our beloved pups. Here are some suggestions. We hope they help, when you need them.
Kim and Sue of Iowa planted dogwood tree with the ashes of – so far – three of their dogs, and will sprinkle future ashes around the base as well. Robin plants fruit trees with her dog’s ashes (when she lives where fruit trees aren’t eaten by moose!) The ashes of Susan’s Tango and Dancer are under twin maple trees, while Toshii’s ashes are under a gingko tree. “I go out and sit with them, and talk to them and it really comforts me,” she said.
Jan makes hand-painted and personalized urns for the ashes of her pups. Emily puts the ashes in decorative glass bottles and adds “tree of life” charms with each pet’s birth stone. Kelly commissioned a custom urn. She sent photos of each dog to the artist, who made tiny sculptures of each dog. Various memory boxes are also available to buy. Sarah Regan Snavely makes amazing boxes for ashes that feature graceful greyhound figures and other carvings. The boxes are also special places for tags and collars (depending on the size of the dogs, the boxes may not be large enough for all the ashes.)
There are other ways to display our beloved pup’s ashes. You can commission an artwork through Remains to Be Seen, where artists make paintings incorporating the ashes of loved ones. Memorial beads are another beautiful option, where a pet’s ashes are blended into stunning glass beads. Old World Stones makes made-to-order engraved river rocks with names, images and dates of departed pets.
Many of the SHUG supporters told us they kept collars and made paw print casts of their beloved pups. Amelia is considering making a stamp from the cast so she can stamp paw prints in the new garden path where her girl Alexi used to bask in the sun.
Many of us have had permanent reminders of our lost loved ones added to our own bodies. We ran a post last year featuring some of our adopters' ink. SHUG's director, Michael Owens, recently lost her beloved Greyhound Heidi just a week shy of her 13th birthday. Heidi lives on wrapped around Michael's finger. After spending nearly a decade wrapped around Heidi's finger, Michael says it was time to return the favor.
Elizabeth keeps a stuffed animal that her first greyhound loved, and she doesn’t let the others play with it. Susan hangs the dog’s tag collars on a pretty jewelry tree. Teri hangs each of their dogs’ Christmas collars on the Christmas tree. Cheryl spun some fur from her beloved Fisher and knitted it into a scarf. Elise created a little altar with framed photos, collars, urns, paw prints, and special mementos. During the time of year for honoring the dead (Day of the Dead or All Souls Day) she puts the altar in her living room and add flowers and remembrances.
We hope these ideas may bring you consolation someday, when the bridge beckons for your four-legged loved ones. Leave your suggestions in the comments.