Many of us grew up with a dog or cat as the family pet, and most of us clearly remember the day that pet passed away. Grief over a pet’s passing can be no different from the loss of an immediate family member. We want our devoted friends to receive the same respectful end of life care as our other family members. Fortunately there are more ways than ever before to honor the lives of our beloved pets.

Traditionally, many people have found comfort in simply burying their pet in the backyard. Seems straightforward enough, right? But what if it’s winter and the ground is frozen, or if you’re unable to dig or there simply isn’t enough room in the backyard? Or worse, what if the kids are at grandma’s and won’t be home until Friday? Who can you call for help? That’s right, your friendly neighborhood undertaker. Your local funeral home is experienced in providing services for your family members, and your pet should be no different. While your undertaker shouldn’t be expected to apply cosmetics to your pet, they can come to your home, bring the pet into their care, and provide your family with a private time to gather and say farewell to their faithful friend. Undertakers today can further assist in the transportation to the place of interment, whether in a backyard or a pet section of a local cemetery, and see that the pet is respectfully laid to rest. Specialized pet caskets, markers and even online obituaries are options available to those who have lost a pet.

In some cases, burial might not be right for your family. If you’ve ever had to relocate for a job, you’ll know what I mean. In that case, you might want to consider cremation. Undertakers today can help arrange for a private, individual pet cremation, assuring your receive the cremated remains of your actual pet. Undertakers even provide advice on the right urn for your family, whether it be an elegant urn for a place of pride on the mantle, or a rock urn so Fido can forever rest in the shade of his favorite tree.

When selecting a cremation service, it will be paramount that you ask some questions regarding the process. Make sure there is a clear understanding if cremation is taking place individually (a private individual cremation) or in a group (often called mass cremation). Be assured that the cremated remains you receive are those of your pet and your pet only by asking what their identification procedure is and how they can assure those cremated remains are in fact only that of your pet. If you’re not working directly with an undertaker but through a third party, say a veterinary or humane organization, make sure it is asked how often pets are transported to the third party crematory and in what method are they held in their care while waiting. If the answer is that your pet is placed in extreme cold storage for several days until ‘the guy with the truck comes’, you might want to look elsewhere — or quite simply, call your local undertaker.

No matter if you choose burial or cremation for your pet, know that the world of undertaking offers numerous ways in which your pet can be memorialized. A paw print can be taken, either in ink or in clay (or both), and one of a kind keepsakes can be made. Perhaps you’d want a portrait made of your special friend enjoying his favorite spot. Or maybe you’d just want to have a small clipping of fur as a keepsake. Remember that undertakers today have access to all of these resources and are ready to help you and your family capture those memories.

Providing compassionate care for the deceased is at the core of the professional life of an undertaker. No distinction should be made to exclude the members of your family that may be furry or feathery or otherwise endowed. If your undertaker hesitates when you call at midnight for the passing of your best friend, you might want to think about what that might mean for the care your human family might receive. Your pet lives to provide companionship and happiness. Shouldn’t they receive the goodbye your family deems best when they reach the end of their journey?

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