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6 Beautiful Ways to Remember and Honour a Beloved Pet

No matter how much time we have with our pets, it's never enough. Even pets who passed many years ago still live in our hearts. Memorializing a pet is a great way to honour their memory as well as remember the joy and love they brought to our lives. Here are some ways to remember a beloved pet.

1. Turn Treasured Memories Into Something Touchable

Many people find it helpful to create something physical by which to remember their pets. It can be as simple or as extensive as you like. Here are a few simple ideas; people with good craft skills are sure to be able to think of others, too.

  • Display a favourite photo in a beautiful photo frame or keepsake like a memorial plaque, stone, or marker.

  • Create a photobook with your favourite memories. Many online services offer software that makes it easy for you to create a photobook online. It's then printed and mailed to you for a long-lasting keepsake.

  • Make a scrapbook. You can include anything you like: photos, notes, a small scrap of your pet's favourite bedding, his tags or collar...

  • Make a video tribute. Something like Windows Movie Maker gives do-it-yourselfers a way to put together some favourite memories. Mix together photos and videos and set it to music.

  • A photo quilt is beautiful to look at and keeps you warm, too, both inside and out.

  • A collage. Whether it's online, in a scrapbook, or with a photo frame, a collage helps to keep your favourite photos together in one place.

  • A memory nook or corner. Gather together a few special items like your pet's collar & tags, his or her favourite toy, and a few photos (or a photo collage) and display them in a space that's specifically set aside to remember him by.

  • Have a necklace (or other piece of jewelry) created with a photo of your pet, and wear it close to your heart. There are even necklace urns available. Another idea is to make a bracelet out of your pet's collar.

  • Get a photo cushion made. When you're snuggled up on the couch you'll have a ready reminder of your pet.

2. Plant a Living Tribute

Some people find it healing to memorialize their pets with another living thing. Plant something beautiful in your pet's honour. It can be anything you like that reminds you of your pet.

  • Trees and shrubs generally last longer than flowers.
  • Plant one in your pet's favourite spot in the yard.
  • Display a beautiful plant in your dog's food and water bowls. Set the bowls in a raised platform for a lovely piece to display on the front porch, the deck, or even inside the home as a conversation piece.
  • Decorate a planter with your pet's collar or tags.

There are also a number of companies that offer to plant a tree in your pet's honour, on public lands (do an online search to find options), generally as a part of conservation or reforestation efforts.

3. Write

The availability of web tools makes it easy for anyone to get online and create their own blog. Write anything you like - funny stories or memories, photos, videos, whatever you want. Even if you're the only one who sees it, it can put a smile in your heart.

A beautiful, bound journal also works for those people who prefer to put pen to paper.

4. Donate In Their Honour

Many pets aren't fortunate enough to have good, permanent homes. Honour your pet's memory by paying it forward. The recipient could be an animal shelter or rescue organization; a specific person who might need help with their pets; a fun place for pets, like a dog park or dog-friendly walking trails; really, anything that you think would honour your pet's memory. For example:

  • Sponsor a kennel that provides a temporary place for shelter pets to stay while awaiting their forever homes;
  • Sponsor a specific pet at a shelter or pet rescue until they are adopted (then you can decide if you'd like to continue that sponsorship with another animal);
  • Donate beds, toys, or food;
  • Sponsor a clean-up of a dog park;
  • Donate a doggy water fountain;
  • Donate your time by volunteering for an animal shelter, or by fostering a needy pet;
  • Pay the vet bill for someone whose is struggling or experiencing stress or grief for their pet;
  • Donate a bench so that pets and their people have a place to rest while discovering a park together.

5. Hold a Memorial Celebration

Memorials are typically held soon after someone dies, but it doesn't have to be that way. People celebrate, and grieve, in different ways. Memorials don't have to be complicated occasions; just getting together a bunch of people and/or pets who knew and loved your pet can help. Share stories and memories ... and they don't have to all be of the 'what a good dog / cat' type - sometimes the memories that make us laugh the most are the ones where our pets did something particularly naughty! Remember them as they were, and rejoice in all the facets of their personality.

6. Share Your Pet's Joy

I remember the first time I saw a box of tennis balls in a park. I thought the municipality had left them there, or someone had forgotten them. When I got closer I saw that there was a note by the box. Although I don't remember the exact wording, it was something to the effect of, "Rex loved nothing better than to play fetch with a tennis ball. He passed a few weeks ago. We are offering these balls to anyone who would like to play a game of ball with their dog. Please help yourself, in honour of Rex."

It was such a beautiful tribute, and I've never forgotten it. What were your pet's favourite activities? How can you share them with other pets (and/or their people)? If your cat was a catnip fiend, bring some to the shelter where cats still awaiting their homes can enjoy. If your dog loved his peanut-butter-filled food dispenser or toy, donate a few to the shelter or volunteer to stuff some of their toys with peanut butter and then watch the dogs enjoy their treat.

"Goodbyes are only for those who love with their eyes. Because for those who love with heart and soul, there is no separation." (Rumi)

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