Q: We have a 13-year-old dog who has just been diagnosed with bladder cancer. We’re told he has just around six months of comfortable life left in him so we’ve been starting to think about how we’ll handle his remains. My mother thinks these thoughts are morbid but I believe it’s important to consider how we’ll want to think back on him. Do you have any interesting ideas about how to memorialize the most perfect dog in the world?
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A: Good for you for thinking ahead. Though your mother clearly doesn’t, I absolutely approve! It might be a tad morbid, but there’s nothing wrong with death. It’s just another part of life that bears as much consideration as how you treat his bladder cancer. (I assume he’s taking the appropriate medications for his condition.)
Thankfully, we now have a lot of “interesting” ways to memorialize our past pets. Whether you’re thinking about how to handle the living’s future memories or have some cremains tucked back in boxes way back in a cabinet (I still do), you have a plethora of options.
Here are a few of my favorites:
Nose and paw prints
Paw prints in clay and nose prints in ink are now common options. Your veterinarian or local pet crematorium can handle this.
Many artists (plenty available on Etsy) will happily craft your pet’s portrait using your favorite photograph as a starting point. Some will even mix the ashes in with their medium (paints, clay, etc) to make the art even more unique.
Believe it or not some people will actually pay thousands of dollars to have their pets freeze-dried and stuffed by a professional taxidermist. Some will even have their pets cloned (Barbra Streisand did this!). Cuddle Clones, plush renderings of your pet based on a photograph you supply, are a more affordable option.
Precious metal nose prints
Nose prints cast in metal (available on Etsy) offer a custom impression of your pet’s oh-so-unique nose.
Ask Google to identify artists who will hand-make these for you. Mass-produced items you can add your own ashes to are also available, often at lower price-points.
Creative urns, trees planted above your pet’s ashes, and mementos made with pet hair (the Victorians did a lot of this) are other popular options. All these may sound weird to some but they may be just what your family needs to help memorialize the “perfect dog.”