“My dog just died — what do I do?” Part 1

If your pet just passed away or you anticipate they’ll pass away soon, you may be feeling lost about what to do. Here we address the two options almost everyone has at their hands: cremation and burial. We talk about how to choose between them or combine the parts that best fit your circumstances and values. Hopefully this post provides a guide in what can be a really difficult period of time.

 

Burial 

Burying your pet directly into the ground is, in our opinion, the simplest and most natural way to say goodbye to a pet. The physical labor of digging the earth and personally resting your pet in the ground can be extremely cathartic, as described by one of our adopters, Judd.

Judd burying Hallie

Judd burying his dear dog, Hallie

Another enormous benefit to burying your pet, particularly on your own property, is being able to visit them. If you cannot find a friend or family member willing to volunteer space on their land, you can bury your pet at a cemetery. We have found that burial plots at pet cemeteries cost between $300 and $800. For some pet owners, having a permanent place to visit is worth every penny. There are also a few places where you can be buried with your pet, called “whole family” cemeteries.

Regardless of where your bury your pet, it is good to have about 2 feet of earth above them. This is shallow enough for effective decomposition to take place. It is also deep enough for the smell of your pet to be masked from scavengers and other animals. Sometimes there are regulations pertaining how far you must bury your pet from a water source (e.g. at least 25 feet from ponds and streams and 100 ft from the water line). If you can’t find the local laws in your county or province online, call your local Animal Control department — they usually know the answer.

Pet-Shroud

If want to bury your pet, The Forever Spot Pet Shroud is your best option. Made of organic cotton and biomaterial, the Shroud is a soft, warm, and eco-friendly option for wrapping your pet. The same mushrooms and organisms in our human suits are in this Shroud to return your pet to the earth beautifully, simply, and without harm to the environment.

 

Click here to read Part 2 on Cremation

 

Legally burying pets & the Green Pet Burial Society

In the United States, the legality of burying your pet on personal property is no easy question.

State laws and local ordinances define burials in most places. For example, the state of Virginia allows for pet burials on personal property. However, Fairfax County deems burials illegal if the pet was euthanized. They also specify that the body must be below 2ft of gravel or dirt, 25ft away from any pond or stream, and 100ft from the water line.

To find similar information for your area, Google the Animal Services division for your county.

There are also entire cemeteries devoted to pets, which can be found on the website for the Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement. However, very few of these cemeteries can be considered “green” by the materials used to conduct the burials and maintain the area.

This is where the Green Pet Burial Society comes in.

The Green Pet Burial Society was founded by Eric Greene to promote earth-friendly options for the disposition of loved one’s remains, reconnect animals with nature in life and death, and explore personal and cultural experiences of mourning within interspecies families. One of the Society’s projects is advocating for “whole family” cemeteries, burial grounds where people can be buried with their pets.

An inventory of “whole family” cemeteries is kept for the United States and some countries internationally.

The Society also has numerous other projects, such as changing legislation for pet cemeteries to be indefinitely protected and mobilizing local communities to establish new pet cemeteries. Visit the website to get involved!

What you didn’t know about losing a pet

This week, we had a chance to talk to Kathy Reiter, a grief counselor who has been helping folks with pet loss for over 40 years. She was the first pet loss counselor in northern Virginia, and continues to volunteer support groups for folks in the region.

Here are some lesser known truths about losing animal companions we learned from Kathy:

  1. Most companion animals avoid showing pain to their owners in fear of alarming or worrying them. Owners have to be vigilant for signs like their furry friend going into another room or seeming detached (low energy or emotion) when they are looked in the eyes.
  2. Loss of appetite or thirst is another tell-tale sign that a pet is approaching its end. The companion animal could also just be sick, so visiting a vet (or having a “mobile” vet visit you) is vital at this stage.
  3. Some pets will pass away naturally if given permission or asked to die from their owners. Sometimes affirmation from their human best friend is really all they are waiting for, like being told “I love you and I will miss you, but you should go now.”
  4. It is 100% normal to feel like a family member has passed away when a pet dies. Some people truly develop a deep connection with their pet and losing their pal feels as horrible as losing a soulmate. Know that each person grieves as uniquely as a fingerprint.

So let’s give each other room to be unique. Perhaps The Forever Spot fits the special relationship you had with your pet. Getting a shroud may help you to finally acknowledge their mortality.

We at Coeio would be honored to help however we can. Reach out to us at hello@coeio.com