Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Biting The Bullet

I found it interesting last week to learn that Bullet sold at an auction for $35,000.  That would be the taxidermed famous German Shepherd of the late Roy Rogers.  I didn't watch the Roy Rogers show, but I grew up hearing about the amazing Trigger and Bullet from my dad, who was a fan of the show as a kid.  I wonder if Roy thought about what would happen with those two beloved pets' bodies so long after he'd passed away.

The story of the auction of Trigger and Bullet, along with many other pieces of memorabilia from the show made me think about a few things.  As a kid, when my pets or our livestock passed away, they were usually buried there on the farm.  My dad dug a hole and buried our pet, then later we'd visit the grave after it was filled in.  Only our horses weren't buried there, because that was a much bigger hole than my dad wanted to dig.  They were sent off to the foundary. 

As an adult, I've lost two beloved dogs.  It's never easy to lose a beloved pet, but it's been a much different process.  Both of them had to be put to sleep at the vet's office and then they were sent from there to the crematorium.  A few weeks later, we'd get a call to go and pick them up, which for me is almost as difficult as making that decision to let them go.  It's comforting to have them back at home, but it's also hard to see that the furry body that you've loved so deeply in life can be reduced to the contents of a small wooden box.  It's sobering and heartbreaking. 

When I read about Bullet being sold at auction, it made me wonder.   What if I'd had my beloved dogs taxidermed and kept them here with us?  What would happen to them after I pass away?  They have been priceless treasures to me, but would they ever be bid on at an auction like that?  I don't know, but it did make me think a bit.

A good friend recently lost her bull terrier to a heart attack at her house.  It was still cold out and they couldn't dig a hole to bury her.  Someone told her that a local funeral home also did pet cremations, so she decided she'd take the dog there.   I should mention that this dog's name was Gabrielle, since she was known as The Warrior Princess.  She was a tough little dog who did not like frou frou or frippery of any kind.  She also had a wicked sense of humor and was an extremely funny little dog. 

The call came for her to come and pick Gabby up from the funeral home, so she went on her lunch break to get her.  She walked in and it was funeral home quiet.  After looking around and calling out at the door with no answer, Kathy walked through the home, looking for someone.  Sure enough, the funeral director appeared out of nowhere on what seemed to be some kind of hovering platform to scare the beejeezus out of her.  After recovering her wits and assuring herself that she did not wet her pants, she told him that she was there to pick up her dog.  The man smiled kindly and lead her into a showroom where they had a variety of urns and boxes to choose from if she so desired.  She paid him for his services and then he handed her the dog's remains, in a fancy gift bag with fancy tissue paper sticking out the top and all artfully arranged with fancy ribbon. 

Kathy told us that she just cracked up laughing.  She was laughing so hard that tears streamed down her face.  All she could think of was that Gabrielle, Warrior Princess, would never have been adorned with such frou frou in her life and that she surely must be laughing to herself at the Bridge at the thought of all that fanciness.  She left a note for her friend who comes to let the dogs out (and who was with Gabrielle when she passed away) and told her that Gabrielle was sitting in her favorite chair the next time the friend came over to take care of the dogs.  Sometimes in the midst of loss, we get a laugh when we need it the most.

All of this makes me curious.  What do all of you do with beloved pets when they pass away?  Has anybody ever taxidermed their own pet?  I've heard some rather funny stories over the years about things that different things that have happened with other people after pet loss that have made me laugh and wonder.  I know that it's a very painful time when you lose a pet, but also that it can be a time when you remember a lot of wonderful stories and moments from your life together.  I also think that most of our pets would want us to have those happy times pieced into our hearts after they've gone.  So, feel free to share any remembrances that you have.

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  1. I had one of my lizards cremated when he passed. He was incredibly special to me. The house we were living in at the time was one that I knew we weren't going to be in for too long and the thought of burrying him in the back yard only to move and lose him again wasn't something that I wanted. So I had him cremated. When it comes for my two to pass, I'm definitely going the cremating route. I like the variety of options that you have now. There's a pet specific crematorium in our general area and they have a variety of keep sakes to choose from in addition to urns. I like the idea of getting some of the ashes put into a charm on a necklace or something along those lines. Something that's permanent and I can keep with me.

  2. As a child my family always buried our pets in our orchard near the creek. Thirty years ago when my 10yr old poodle was killed by a car I had her cremated.I remember sitting in my car and crying for a half hour when I picked her ashes up. Kept her (ashes) in my hutch up until 7years ago, when I could finally got rid of them. I think having a dog taxidermed is a nice idea. My mom's family had their little dog stuffed when she was young, in the 1920's. There's a photo of her with it....maybe that should be a post?? I hate to think of Hootie or BabyRocketDog passing away. Hopefully it will be a long time from now. I have a funny story about when my daddy passed away, but it's long, so won't bore you!

  3. How funny. Gabrielle is such a wonderful name for a no nonsense dog. Here in deepest France Profonde all the animals get swept off to one central incinerator - the chance of getting your loved ones ashes back are mathematically so remote as to be non-existent. We've always been fortunate enough to be able to dig a resting place and wander over for a chat and a glass of wine whenever the mood takes us. We still do.

  4. I wonder if I taxidermied an old dog, if a new dog would come along and disrespectfully chew on it... :P

    I've lost a rat, rabbit and a dog so far in my adult life. I buried the rat in the back courtyard of my unit at the time. The rabbit was sent to be cremated, and so was the dog. I am pretty sure they just do mass cremations of pets in my area, so you don't get their ashes back. All I have to remind me of my first dog are the photos, memories and the little bone shaped tag she used to wear on her collar. The vet where I had my dog euthanased did not accept payment that day, said they would send a bill out. I ended up with my new puppy (Bender) only a few weeks later. They were surprised to see me!

  5. Hey there...
    Thank you for a very interesting topic to ponder over.
    I would never taxiderm my beloved pet! I've seen taxidermed animals and the glass eyes they use simply make me nauseous!
    A pets eyes, during their lifetime, tell all and to see their bodies with lifeless eyes is truly horrible (for me). Obviously others feel differently, but it is simply not for me.

    As for Maxdog's ashes (which are still waiting in my home in their wooden box)...Ive got permission from our Residents association to plant a special tree in our local park (where he often visited) and to bury his ashes there. I just have to wait for the right moment.

    Each owner/person must decide what is right for them in their grief.

    Thanks you so much for an interesting topic.
    Sending lotsaluv

  6. Hmm Im torn.
    Majors Mum here.
    He would be mortified(I know!) if he knew I could write about this but anywho...
    When Braise passed almost a year ago now, you know it took my hubby and a good friend 4 solid hours of shovelling to dig the hole he was laid to rest in? Now a lovely garden bed...but that was some of the longest 4 hours of my life.
    Next time (((shudder))) a digger will be hired and I will head out for the day.
    I wish our fur babies lives were longer.
    On the up note...Maj is besotted with your Bunny dear

  7. When our beloved Pi doggie crossed over the rainbow bridge she did it at home and we made a spot for her in the back yard. With our other dogs, we just let the vet take care of it. Gone but not forgotten.

    Mango Momma

    P.S. Just thinking about what our house would be like with a stuffed basset hound, airedale, and mastiff watching over things. Then I think the neighbors would know for sure that we were whacked out.

  8. We had our three cats pass away within 6 months. They had all been sick for a long time, but it was an incredibly sad time for our family. All three were cremated. We would still like to do something with the ashes, but haven't decided what yet. Mama also got her first tattoo (she is not a tattoo person) in their memory. It is a sun and represents all three of them.

    Your pal, Pip

  9. Loved your Gabrielle story!

    I want to be the dog that lives forever (or at least as long as my humans.) But, I have heard them talk about a backyard burial... I don't know if they've ever thought about it being too cold to break ground. I may have to hint around about that. Thanks for asking the questions.

  10. Taxidermy seems rather creepy to my humans. Like, would you stuff Grandma? No? There have been quite a lot of animals living here. Some are buried in the backyard, which is illegal, but...Most recently Stevie Ray Cat, who passed at home shortly after my arrival. He has a most impressive grave, covered in rocks. No one wanted an unfortunate incident with one family member digging up another. The preferred way around here is cremation, and then a simple ceremony in which a hole is dug and the ashes poured into the hole so the deceased's remains become a part of the backyard that was part of his/her home.

    lotsa licks, Lola

  11. My mom and papa had our sweet Ginger cremated. She wasn't delivered in a fancy bag. She would have hated that. Our vet traveled over an hour to deliver the box of her ashes to us... in a Macaroni Grill bag. Now Ginger would have LOVED that!!

    After the photo with the horse, dog and man... I was a little distracted. I've heard of taxidermy for animals but I didn't know they did it for two-leggers!! Creepy--- oh wait, mom said that picture is not what I think. Wheeew!


  12. Your post made me revisit the question I never want to think about but MUST because our pets will inevitably pass away one day but I hate to think about it, of course. My fiance swears he is going to get Henry & Buster taxidermied and I think it would be disturbing to have the cats "looking" at me without the ability to meow. I have always said that I would need several bereavement days off so that I could cope with the loss and get away from everyone.
    Now, if Daisy passed away, I would be a complete mess (and so would my fiance') and I am at a loss at whether we'd cremate her or not because that's too tough of a question at the moment!
    Great thought-provoking post! Love it!

  13. My big sissy Samantha was cremated and her ashes returned to mom and dad. The whole idea of taxidermy for animals creeps my mom out, but some people are OK with it...oh well.

    Woofs and Licks,
    Maggie Mae

  14. My mom and dad have always chosen the final spot... based on where, on our property, was his or her favorite location. this is sooooo difficult to think about.

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  16. Sorry, lots of emotional spelling errors I had to remove it or look like I was illiterate.

    What an interesting topic Carrie.

    I know for as long as we've had pets we have always buried them in our yard. So many, in fact, I fear that one day I will bury a pet of the grave of another. Most recently, I think over the last two years, we have lost my Black Lab, Emma; my mom's Basset Hound, Bree; brother's English Bulldog, Brigette; and two cats Hercules and Steve. I buried them all lovingly in our yard. I could never cremate.

    My friend Tony, who is also my vet, knew of my plight having put them all to sleep. He said he could take Emma back with him to cremate, but I dared not let him. For me it was easier and more consoling to hold and pet her for a while and the actually use my own muscles to dig her grave. She was with me for so long it was the very least I could do. She deserved it as she never left my side, I wasn't going to dare leave hers.

    But this is just me, a guy who has always buried his pets.

  17. I've never had to deal with this--I've only lost one cat and that was to a coyote.

    But I do shudder to think of getting a pet stuffed....I would never do that. I've heard stories of people that stuff their froo froo dogs then carry them around in little carriers wherever they go. There was one instance where (I wasn't there, I've just heard the story) someone left their stuffed Yorkie in the car in the summer heat, and someone broke the window for fear the dog would suffocate in there. Imagine what they felt when they found out it was a stuffed dog :)

  18. Taxidermy is not something our humans would want to do. Mom said they always buried dogs in the yard when she was little, but now we let the vet take care of things. Our parents have not brought ashes home but they believe they have enough memories in their minds and hearts to satisfy them. They may be gone physically but they are with us in other ways.

    Woos ~ Phantom, Thunder, and Ciara

  19. I'd heard about this auction. Made me kind of sad. We have Pooh Bear's ashes in a nice box on the shelf behind me in my office, not far from where she always used to sit every morning (i.e., in my lap).

  20. I'm totally having mom stuffed when she goes to the Bridge.

    BUT on the off chance I got before she does, I'm gonna be cream-ated. I wonder if they use actual cream to do that with? And you don't think that mom and dad would actually ated me, do you? Hmmmm...maybe I should reconsider this.

    My two kitteh sisters, Annabelle and Molly, who went to the Rainbow Bridge before I came to live here were cream-ated. And they are sitting on my mom and dad's dresser in two pretty little containers. Mom has always been afraid of burying them cuz she knows they won't live in this house forever and she doesn't want to leave them behind when we move.

    What she would like after she and dad pass along is to have their ashes mixed with all the pet ashes and scattered somewheres nice. Of course, by that point, they might need to hire a dump truck to gets all the ashes where they need to go. Ha!

    Wiggles & Wags,

  21. Taxidermy is definitely out of the question for my hoomans... so unnatural and kind of not completing the life cycle... cremation and ashes for remembrances would be the call of the day.

    Licks, hero

  22. We've buried a couple (ferrets, small whole) but most have been done at the vet and sent off to be cremated. I should probably do more but for now they all line one wall in my coat closet. I like Mayzie's mom's idea. We will definitely need a dump truck!

    Mr. Nubbin's Mom!

  23. Thanks fur the levity!

    It does help to make the best of an emotional time -

    The khats and khanines from Mom's furamily are buried in the yard here -

    Mom's past Sibes were entrusted to the vet -

    Mom thinks when my time khomes she'll have me khremated and keep my ashes since I'm her furry furry special furst solo khanine - something about a heartdog -

    Of khourse, that will be many many MANY years from now!


  24. I'm afraid that taxidermy isn't for me.

    Our first dog was murdered at a very young age (2) so we hadn't thought about the death process even the slightest bit. We buried him on the land where we were renting a house (with permission), not thinking about how hard it would be when we eventually had to move. That was the most heart breaking part of moving - the feeling that we were abandoning him.

    So now, we cremate. I have a golden heart necklace with a tiny urn implanted in it with a few ashes inside it. I love my golden heart. It keeps my dogs with me all the time.

    But, I agree with you that picking up that box of ashes a couple of weeks after a dog's death is just plain horrendous.

  25. This is a really interesting question, and I haven't really thought how I would deal with this with our current pooches. Growing up, our dogs died at the vet and I never really wondered what happened to their "bodies". We just always had the collars, their one and only possession, to remember them by. Although it seems like a popular practice, I'm not sure that I would want the ashes of my cremated dog. For me, that would be more of a memorial to their death than a celebration of their life.

  26. Our parents have always buried our little loved ones when they pass...and mark their graves with wonderful memorial stones.

    I have a hard time thinking what will be done when Bilbo, Jacob and Dory pass...I like Max Mom's idea of cremation and then burial under a favorite spot.

    Very cool topic!

  27. My mom says that she would not do that taxidermy. Like you said... pawesome for my mom but what would happen when she is no longer alive. I don't think someone will like to keep my stuffed body. A cremation is what we think is best.
    Kisses and hugs

  28. I like to keep a lock of hair. I actually have hair from my 3rd grade hamster, Angora (fitting name for an Angora hamster :-).... so more than 25 years ago. I also keep the last collars (Sandy, Gator, Jes, Teresa, and Travis). But I never get the ashes back... not sure why, but just don't.

  29. Our mom thinks it's creepy for her to get us stuffed, but she gets all people's reactions. There are no rules in view of such loss. Having said that, her preference is cremation and then making using a small part of the ashes to use inside a glass bead. This way she can keep us close by at all times.

  30. When our dogs or cats pass away, we bury them in our yard and paint a headstone for them. There are a couple of special goat kids as well that are buried alongside the housepets. For the larger farm animals, as you said, digging is not an option so we call a local man who handles such renderings.

  31. yup, mama thinks that taxidermy stuff is way creepy like, too. she thinks she would prolly want our ashes so she can always have us with her even if she moves to a different house.
    the booker man


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