When your pet is gone...what to do with those ashes?

Patty Khuly, DVM
Published: July 2, 2009
When your pet is gone...what to do with those ashes?

By now, most of you reading this have likely suffered through the loss of a pet. At the time, everything’s so horrible and unreal you’re not likely to be thinking straight when you’re asked to decide whether you’d like your loved one privately cremated. If you managed to say “yes,” a few days later you’ll be faced anew with the question: What to do.

Three weeks ago, my beloved Sophie Sue lost her battle with brain cancer. It was so difficult to discuss at the time so you’ll have to forgive me if my DailyVet posts didn’t convey the rawness of my anguish for all of you to see. 

Yes, I asked for her body to be privately cremated. Here’s why:

  1. I felt I wanted some part of her near me and for me, personally, her collar, a hair clipping and photographs weren’t enough. I needed something more direct, more ceremonial. 
  2. It’s illegal to bury pets in our yards here in the South Florida municipality I live in (Miami-Dade County). Their remains risk entering the ground water supply. Plus, our soil is so coral rock heavy, burial is a tough job if you want them deep enough so small predators can’t get to them.

So my local pet crematory service (Pet Heaven) took her body away, to be transformed to ashes in their facility. I was offered the chance to see her body cremated, in case I should harbor any doubts as to her ashes’ true remains of Sophie Sue. I politely demurred on that one. After all, I trust them. 

Then came the time of arrival. Pet Heaven’s driver handed her ashes to my staff...and, later, my staff to me. So now...what to do with them...

My son’s idea was the best...bury them beneath a tree we’ll plant on our belated Father’s day festivities this Sunday. How perfect. Still, I’ll be keeping a tiny portion of her ashes close to me. I can only guess, but I sure hope some of them come from the top of her head...right where she loved to be petted. 

When the time comes...what will you do? 

Dr. Patty Khuly

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