All the animals we’ve loved

SAMSUNG CSC

In a shady corner of a local park, a clutch of small stone markers lie almost forgotten.  Sheltered by elderly sycamores, adorned by moss, framed by shrubs and wildflowers, the markers show the signs of age.  Some are weather-beaten and eroded, others tilt in the ground.  But these markers were placed here carefully and deliberately, to remember the lives of more than 200 companions.  This is the pet cemetery; a quiet, moving place, that seems cut off from the frivolity of the rest of the park.  A sad place, but also a special one, where the love of so many people for their companions converges.

SAMSUNG CSC

SAMSUNG CSC

There are heroes here.  An Alsatian who detected land mines in Italy in WWII and another dog that was a Dunkirk veteran.   Trixie Fox was rescued from the Normandy beaches, so it seems she was also a veteran, though her war record has been lost to time.  But this isn’t just a place for war heroes, it’s a place for those creatures that become the small heroes of our lives.  Our ‘faithful friends’, ‘loving protectors’ and ‘little pals’.  There’s something poignant about reading their names – Laddie, Bop, Bushy, Scrappie, Billy Boy – and trying to imagine the proud and playful creatures that inhabited them.  They are mainly cats and dogs, but there is also a fawn named Bambi and a tortoise called Monty.  But it’s little Bop who always brings a lump to my throat – he seems to have only lived for a year, but is still remembered here.

SAMSUNG CSC

SAMSUNG CSC

The burial of pets has ancient roots.  Animals were entombed and mummified in ancient Egypt.  Hundreds of dogs were buried at Ashkelon in Israel in about the 5th Century BC.  But it was in the 19th century that pet cemeteries became popular.  There are pet cemeteries in Hyde Park, London, Hartsdale, New York and Paris, France that were begun in the 1800s.  Ours was opened in 1948 and was in use until the 1980s when no space remained.

SAMSUNG CSC

SAMSUNG CSC

I have loved and lost many animal companions.  There’s something particularly distressing about losing an animal which not everyone understands.  Perhaps it’s because they don’t belong to us, but we’re entrusted to care for them for the briefest of times.  Because they trust and stay faithful to us in a relationship that must, at times, be difficult for them to understand.  Because our relationship with them is intimate, constant and usually simple.

SAMSUNG CSC

The animals buried here are long gone.  If anything haunts this place, it’s only the tender memories of those they left behind.  Still, sometimes I imagine the pet cemetery when the park has emptied of people.  I see the spirits of dogs and cats peeping out from the bushes in which they’ve been resting.  Out they come, playful and energetic, pouring into the footpaths and fields of the park, leaving only silvery streaks of fur and ethereal yips in their wake.

120 thoughts on “All the animals we’ve loved

  1. So lovely to have this special place for pets. I am feeling particularly grateful to my little Jack for his dedicated companionship these past few weeks when I have been unwell with the flu/virus.

    Like

  2. With as much joy as pets bring people, they deserve a proper memorial and place for their loved ones to visit. Of course, I suppose we couldn’t do that for all–environmental and space issues and such–but I think pet cemeteries are a nice concept.

    Like

  3. oh Andrea, this goes straight to the heart… I ‘ve parted with seventeen little darlings, and each one hurt as much as the previous… you never get used to saying goodbye to the unconditional love, sweetness, fun, and goodness that our pets our pour upon us.. all mine were rescued, and I usually had three at a time, and their devotion was total… they never ceased to be grateful…loved your pictures of love…which is what each inscription oozed with…

    Like

    • Thanks Valerie. I think that unconditional love and goodness is one of the reasons it makes it so hard to say goodbye – we usually don’t have complicated relationships with our animal companions, so it hurts all the more when they’re gone.

      Like

    • Thanks Sue. This is the only one I’ve visited and I’ve known it since I was a child when I used to play in this park, but they are only stones and I firmly believe the pets are in some other happy place 🙂

      Like

  4. Andrea, your posts so often speak to my heart and soul and bring something from another ‘dimension,’. What a wonderful story this is. Thank you.
    Your post also brings to mind the pet memorial garden behind an Anglican church in Italy. I happened upon it completely by accident and was immediately overtaken by a feeling of both peace and harmony.

    Like

  5. Lovely post, Andrea, and very timely for me because we’ve just had an old friend staying with us who brought me a photo she had of my first dog, the dog I grew up with, had so many adventures with and loved fiercely. It’s lovely to have the photo because I have very few of that dog, but the loss hit me all over again though she’s been gone for many years now. I like to think of her spirit out there as you describe, young again and running free and joyous.

    Like

  6. Oh boy, I’m sitting here with tears in my eyes. What a lovely, meaningful post. Yes, we who are lucky to mourn a pet are lucky to have had the sweet soul in our lives. I’m still mourning Henry (golden, gone 1 1/2 years) and when I read this post, I feel like truly, I should bring another Henry into my life. I love this cemetery you show here. When Henry died, his ashes were buried in a CA pet cemetery, filled with flowers and ferns. When our first golden died, his ashes were sent to us to our new home (we had moved cross country), and we buried the box of ashes in the yard and planted a tree in her name at that spot. I liked that the most.

    Like

    • Thanks Pam, you’ve obviously found special places to lay your companions to rest. It’s very difficult to move on – we had five cats until a few years ago and the house was unbearably empty when they’d all gone. We now have our little Border Terrier and I hope he’ll be around for a long time to come.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. This is such a moving tribute, Andrea! It truly is those of us who love or have loved a faithful companion who understand the pain of losing them. I have a companion who’s been faithful for many years and is showing distinct signs that his life as we know it is about to end. It is a sorrowful time.
    Thank you for this lovely post.

    Like

  8. I’ve had many faithful animal companions over the years too, Andrea. I couldn’t help but think of them as I read this wonderful post. I’d like to believe their spirits are romping in play. Sometimes, I still think I hear my last cat run and jump sideways across the room (we called it the spikes). I think it’s difficult for those who never had the joy of caring for an animal friend to truly understand the connection. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Like

  9. Oh my, I can never read about pets without tears. They are more loving and loyal than most humans. This was really interesting to read.

    The pet cemeteries around here are few and far between. This cemetery you shared has pets from long ago. It’s seems pets have moved our hearts for much more than even decades, but millennium. Your words are lovely in remembrance of them. It’s wonderful that even strangers can know a special pet lived for someone. I still want people to know that my Piezon lived and made a difference while he was here.

    I hope you don’t mind if I share this post with an online pet-grief support. It may help them to see that even people from decades ago have gone through the same thing, having their hearts shattered at the loss of a pet. Like you said, not everyone understands this type of heartache. Thanks for sharing this, Andrea.

    Like

  10. I’m really impressed with the war hero dogs – that’s such a nice touch. And pets are special to people so a place where they can be laid to rest is a wonderful idea, providing owners their personal everlasting memories. Very touching.

    Like

  11. Put me in the slightly cynical camp Andrea though I just love your final paragraph – typical you.

    We have an animals cemetery here in Jersey, also now full I think. When I was a small boy I was fascinated by a headstone to Joseph the Cat in Elmdon churchyard, not far from Birmingham Airport. We would often walk out that way on a weekend. He was a favourite of the owner of the (long demolished) Elmdon House. The headstone is still there and Joseph died in 1912.

    Like

    • Somehow I’m not surprised you’re a slight cynic about this Roy 🙂 What I find particularly interesting about this cemetery is that it hints at a bygone age – which is not to say pet cemeteries aren’t popular now as they are, but the language and sentiments of this one seem to belong to an earlier time.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. What a beautiful cemetery. Your description of a pet’s loss is so on point. When we lost my childhood dogs, they died three years apart, we had them cremated and then buried each under their own small bush in my parents’ garden. Now the bushes have grown and we can walk past them and think of these two lovely dogs who shared our lives. And my dog now pees next to these bushes which makes me smile.

    Like

  13. This post made me tear up, as reading tombstones do in general, wondering about the life of who is buried. Especially coming across one like Bop, who only lived for a bit, I wonder about its owner, too.

    There just happens to be a pet cemetery nearby and the one my sister picked out when our family dogs died. Buttons and Carrie joined the Bops and Laddies long ago. I have visited only once. That Sunday afternoon I saw humans with picnic lunches spread across the graves enjoying the sunshine as they paid their respects.

    And oh, I love your vision of their nightly playfulness, prowling and prancing about the land, maybe some of the surf dogs here making their way down to the beach to indulge one last time! What a scene that conjures up!!

    Like

  14. That is the most beautiful of places . We adore our animals for being there for us when humans just aren’t . I have always had King Charles Spaniels and loved every one I’ve had but this chap I have now iis , Oscar , and I always call him ‘heaven sent’ because he was born just around the time my dad died . I was in a heap and this little ball of fluff just looked at me with huge eyes as if to say ‘can I help you at all ‘. He is nearly ten now and I dread the day I have to say goodbye to him . He isn’t brave , in fact he shakes in his paws when he sees another dog , or has to go to the vets . He’s not the most enthusiastic , when going for his walk either , basically he was born lazy and snores like a trooper but I love him with all my heart .
    Cherryx

    Like

  15. We’ve always cremated our pets, but never got around to doing anything beyond keeping them in their boxes. At one point, my mother had kept six of them on the mantel above the fireplace! I have never seen an actual pet cemetery, but what amazing people to have gone to the lengths of burying their beloved pets and getting gravestones to mark their resting places.

    Like

  16. Oh, a lovely post, Andrea. You may recall I’m among the odd human species that doesn’t take to animals but this is very touching, not to mention informative. I actually tasted the affections people can have for animals when I stayed 2 wks as a guest in a home that had a big lab, Buddy. Was amazing to see how intelligent he was, clearly a member of the family. I was in fact very saddened to hear he had passed years later.

    Like

  17. oh this is a precious post Andrea!! Thank you so much for sharing it. I bet your eyes were wet and I’m so glad you feel their playful spirits! What an amazing place! Your images are lovely. I cried when I saw the stone to Greyfriar’s Bobby! There is something sweetly special about a relationship to a pet especially dogs who are so loyal and selfless but I’ve also lost an amazing cat and a few birds.
    My dear cockatiel, Chico, who was around 16 yrs had developed a heart murmur and became lethargic and grumpy. Then one evening he did something he had not done for awhile. He flew over to my shoulder which took an enormous amount of energy and began nuzzling me with his head and was reluctant to go back to his cage. The next morning he died. I knew then, he had been saying goodbye. Yes, pets deserve the recognition of the wonderful, pure friendship they have given us, their amazing personalities and their unsullied connection to the divine.

    Like

  18. Oh sweet little Bop! No wonder he tugs at your heart strings Andrea. And Trixxie Fox! How touching to know that war hero pets lie here. Our pets are so precious to us. I love this: ‘leaving only silvery streaks of fur and ethereal yips in their wake.’ Beautifully written as always, and yes, I certainly do hope that we shall yet see our pets once again. Such a tender post, thank you Andrea.

    Like

  19. It does hurt so much to say goodbye to such amazing companions. I often wish our relationships with fellow humans could be as simple and straightforward. Maybe we’d all live in a better world if that were the case.

    Like

  20. Reading with tears in my eyes. Little Bop, who was he? A puppy? A hamster? It could be that he is already united with his pal somewhere out there, across the Rainbow Bridge. I have some sweet furry children waiting for me too. Thank you for this tender post, Andrea!

    Like

  21. What a beautiful image of the pets enjoying the park after everyone’s gone!! I have a pet cemetery in my backyard. Three faithful companions are beneath flower canopies and stone markers. They were part of our family and will never be forgotten.

    Like

  22. This is fascinating, Andrea. I’ve never been to a pet cemetery. When my dog died, I gave permission to the vet to have her cremated. It was such a painful loss, distressing as you said.

    Like

  23. Poignant post Andrea and you’re writing it with so much tenderness and reverence.. My eyes began to swell.. Such dear memories.. Until one has learned to love an animal a part of one’s soul remains unawakened. Wouldn’t you agree?

    Like

  24. This post brings back such great (and sad) memories growing up and being grown up. The attachment me (and my family especially) have towards the pets we grew up with and currently have bring such sadness when they pass…a family member, and this post makes me feel great to know that even today they are with me in memory ~ and thus my spirit. Cheers to a great week. Thank you.

    Like

  25. This is incredibly touching. Relationships with animals are often so much simpler that human ones and also there is an unconditional element to the way they love us and we can love them. I aspire to that in my human relationships but often fall short. My elderly aunt who lives alone transformed when we found her an enormous ginger cat to look after – the cat’s stroppy and demanding nature perfectly matched her own. Two top cats together!

    Like

  26. I love the idea of having a restful place in the park, where many of the dogs I’m sure liked to frolic and play. They should have more of these spots! Hard for us when our companions die and nice to know they have a peaceful resting place.

    Like

  27. Oh, Andrea, leave it to you to post about such a special place. I am so moved. I have almost posted a couple of times about my dear Mac’s ashes. Because that is what “we” tend to do today: cremate our beloved companion animals. When my last dog, Sandy, passed away, I was given a beautiful wooden box with a brass name place with his ashes. I expected the same thing for Mac. No. You know what they gave me? A plastic “urn.” Piece of stupid crap plastic. I was so disappointed. The only redeeming aspect was the white plaster mold of his little feet. I put that in a black shadowbox and keep it in next to the urn. So this beautiful cemetery is so lovely. Makes me wish Mac could be there.

    Like

    • Yes, it would be lovely if all our companions could rest in a place like these. I don’t even have the ashes of ours. You’ve actually reminded me of when we got my dad’s ashes and they were in a plastic jar, like a large sweet jar, which doesn’t seem very dignified at all. Even so, it’s our memories and the life we lived with them that are important ❤

      Like

  28. Oh, this touched my heart! I will gladly visit a cemetery but I have never visited a pet cemetery. As a child on a ranch I had my own pet cemetery with rocks for head stones. Here we have buried several cats in the back yard and I like to think they come out at night as angel cats and roam around! This is a lovely post! Sad that we outlive so many. Peace to you and yours!

    Like

  29. What a beautiful place, Andrea. Our pets are a big part of our lives and their death is always hard on us. As a child I buried birds and any small animal I found dead. It wasn’t sad but more like a farewell celebration. Lovely post as always.

    Like

  30. We buried our cat, Purdita, under the pampas grass at the bottom of our garden, where she liked to hide. She is still missed, but sadly not by her brother who was delighted to be the only cat….
    I have never seen a pet cemetery, but it looks a peaceful place.

    Like

  31. Andrea such an important part of life and expressed so well here. Imagine a life without our pets. They are those added blessings in our lives and I for one have been blessed with many beautiful pets over my life. I too, hate saying goodbye.

    Like

  32. A calm sad place but with so many happy memories, talk about conflicting emotions. Lovely post this, makes me smile at the thought of loads of animals frollicking about, they sure do have an impact pets, whether with us or gone.

    Like

  33. When my mother lost her old Basset Hound a couple of years ago, I searched hard to find the best words to write in a card of condolence and stumbled upon the following words that came from a dog’s grave in Maryland, US.
    “Born a dog and died a gentleman”.
    These few words so encapsulate my mother’s dog. Indeed, he was an absolute gentleman.

    Like

  34. Unfortunately, I watched the movie “Pet Sematary” WAY too many times when I was a kid. It freaked me out, but that didn’t stop me from watching it repeatedly.

    I’ve never been to an actual pet cemetery, but I adore the way you described it as a peaceful place—especially with the idea that they all come out to play at night. I love that.

    Like

  35. It would be a miserable world without animals. Thank you for this beautiful post Andrea. It brought back memories of all our long departed pet friends and also of a ghost cat who haunted a house we lived in. Strange but true.

    Like

  36. Lovely post. A bit of a coincidence re: cemeteries. As you know I’ve recently come back from Nova Scotia. My family tree has lots of roots there. We inevitably visited the cemetery where my great grandparents, grandparents, aunts, uncles etc are. I felt compelled to take photos of the tomb stones…standing beside them. Some might think it’s odd, but it’s the closest I can get to them…to visit their graves, to visit the old homes they used to fill their energy with…Thank you for honouring the 4-legged animals. I agree, they’re just as special as the 2-legged ones 😉

    Like

    • Thanks La Sabrosona – I love cemeteries generally, I find a peace in them as well as usually lots of wildlife, big old trees and fascinating headstones. I’m not surprised you found the need to visit the cemetery where your family are – it’s a touchstone where you can feel closer to them.

      Liked by 1 person

I love comments, please leave a reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.