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This dog is one amazing actor! He makes me want to purchase a rider on my own insurance policy!—Sid

A prospective fellow Pet PAC member, Max Haynes, shared with me this charming photo book, produced by him but, he assures me, written by his dog. Click the link and enjoy. Below it is a photo from the cover of <>, featuring Sue Storms of Little White Terriers fame, holding her neighbor’s Westie, Dashiell! Small world!—Sid

A Dog’s Guide to the Hereafter

Sue Storms and Dashiell



Owen again

Hi, folks, here I am! I’m a puppy – Ya gotta love me!!

My name is Owen and I’m a young Westie; maybe around 1-2 years old, but still very much a puppy. My foster family sprung me from the St. Cloud pound.  I’ve been neutered and am up to date on my vaccinations.  I’m very well behaved in the crate and appear to be house broken.  I’m a very sweet Westie boy!  I get along great with all my foster brothers and sisters – LOVE to play!  I’m eager to please and quick to learn, but I still need lots of training and manners.

I’m a typical terrier that loves to run after squirrels and anything else that terriers like to chase. I MUST be fenced in or under the control of a terrier savvy handler when outside. (I have even chewed through a leash….oops!)

Fun is my middle name, so if you are interested in adopting me, Owen Fun Westie, please contact my foster family so they can share all the other wonderful things about me.

Photos of yours truly are attached so you can see how cute and fun I look. (My ears aren’t always down….just when the camera comes out.)

Please call John or Steph Wisecarver at home 320-963-6085 or Steph on her cell phone at 763-354-0911.

As an animal chaplain who works with people to help them prepare for, cope with and move on after pet loss, I think this pet cemetery is a wonderful idea, especially for those who prefer to bury rather than cremate their pets. It is largely illegal in the city to bury animals, and then there’s always the concern that if you do it anyway you may someday move to another home and have to leave behind your departed animals’ graves. I just helped a woman through the euthanasia of her beloved cockatoo, Cuddles, yesterday. She lives in a condo and is Jewish—her faith disallows cremation—so she had to bury her bird in her mother’s garden. She may still someday have to face her mother moving from that house and leaving Cuddles behind. Having access to a permanent, preserved burial space might have brought her an additional measure of comfort.

In my research and writing of my book, “Good Grief: Finding Peace After Pet Loss,” people all over the globe submitted stories of how bonded they were with their animals and how important memorializing them is to their own heart’s healing. I agree fully with Ms. Ayl, in the following article, when she writes, “Places like this and memorializing your pet are very important. Humans need symbolism. It’s very powerful. It’s very healing.”—Sid

Where Pets Rest in Peace

The Los Angeles Pet Memorial Park in Calabasas offers a final resting place for beloved animals as well as comfort for their grieving owners.

By Reza Gostar | Email the author | August 11, 2010

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Flory DeVoe buried her dog Bijou at the Los Angeles Pet Memorial Park in Calabasas. Credit Flory DeVoe

About 40,000 pets are buried at the Los Angeles Pet Memorial Park in Calabasas, and each tombstone and grave tells its own uniquely bittersweet story.

Although not the largest pet cemetery, the park is the second oldest in the country. A far cry from Stephen King’s “Pet Cemetery,” the Calabasas memorial park has a tranquil atmosphere where many animal lovers have found comfort.

Kathleen Ayl, pet loss support specialist, says people need emotional healing when a beloved animal dies.

“The amount of grief someone goes through is in direct proportion to the amount of connection they shared,” said Ayl.

According to Ayl, places like the memorial park and the burial or cremation ceremony help people find closure and aid them in the recovery process.

“People need to be aware that there are beautiful places that handle your animal in a loving and spiritual way and in a very respectful way,” said Ayl. “Places like this and memorializing your pet are very important. Humans need symbolism. It’s very powerful. It’s very healing.”

At the center of the park grounds a statue of Saint Francis of Assisi, patron saint of the animals, stands with his arms outstretched. Names such as Mittens, Spanky, Corky and Chipper are etched into the flower-adorned headstones surrounding it.

A statue of Saint Francis of Assisi, patron saint of the animals, is one of the statues scattered throughout the park. Credit Reza Gostar

The park’s prices vary depending on the size of the animal and the amenities requested, employee Donna J. Robinson explained. The cost for a cremation depends on the pet’s weight and runs from $90 for a small cat to $310 for a large dog. For a headstone, casket, plot and service the total can range from $550 to $1,250. For larger pets such as horses the price can go up as high as $4,750.

People come to the Calabasas park for different reasons. Raphael Briliant was visiting with her rescued boxer Marcelle, who she explained is still a little aggressive as a result of his past abuse. Briliant, who had her cat Esmeralda cremated at the park, finds the grounds’ peacefulness redeeming and a start contrast to the brutality and neglect that she often witnesses in her rescue work.

“I remember walking through the park and reading some of these things . . . When you work in rescue and you see some people give up on their pets,” she said as tears formed. “Then you read some of the testimonies here and you realize that there are good people out there.”

Clarence and Flory DeVoe came to the Calabasas park because they didn’t want to bury their dog Bijou in the backyard. They wanted a more dignified and traditional service.

“The animal is a big part of the family,” said Clarence DeVoe of his pet. “My wife still talks about Bijou . . . I took my grandson down there a few weeks ago.”

The park can be a setting for young ones to learn about life and death and respect, Clarence DeVoe said.

Many people come to the park asking about a great-grandmother’s or great-grandfather’s pet. Some of the records date to 1928, the park’s inception, said Robinson.

A group of pet owners formed Save Our Pets’ History in Eternity (SOPHIE) to preserve the cemetery, which was founded by Eugene C. Jones and his family. A nine-person board of directors runs SOPHIE.

David Stiller, president of SOPHIE’s board, offered to show a Patch reporter around. The first stop was a mausoleum, which was erected in 1929 and stands at the highest point in the cemetery overlooking the grass below. Inside the building are the cremated remains of birds, dogs and cats safeguarded behind engraved marble-covered niches.

The oldest structure in the park is a mausoleum built in 1929. Credit Reza Gostar

In the oldest part of the park, Stiller walked toward his cat Majesty’s grave, laid to rest 21 years ago, and quickly arranged the flowers placed on top.

“My cat Majesty was the kind of cat that would not be in the sun, so his little plot is in a shaded area underneath a big tree,” Stiller said. “This is the real, real old section if you look at the headstones . . . 1937, 1936, 1929.”

Many famous names can be found at the park including Hopalong Cassidy’s horse Topper, Rudolph Valentino’s Great Dane Kabar and The Little Rascals’ playful Pete the Pup. In other areas of the park, visitors can find Charlie Chaplin’s cat or Humphrey Bogart’s dog.

credit Reza Gostar”]

“We will be here for another fifteen years, roughly and then we’ll be full,” said Stiller. “We have an endowment to maintain the insurance, the water and the groundskeepers in perpetuity.”

Thankfully, there are more and more options for people who seek to memorialize and honor their pet’s passing. Pet crematories, pet funeral homes, and Animal Chaplaincy Services such as those I offer, as well as innumerable pet memorial products (see that link on this blog) exist to help people give a fitting end to their animal companion’s life. However, there is the not-fun-to-think-about topic of what to do with your pet’s physical body when he or she dies. This article should help. —Sid

Burying a Cat or Dog: What You Need to Know

Posted by pet editor on August 4, 2010 · Leave a Comment

It’s the last labor of love you’ll perform for your furry friend: making arrangements for pet burial or cat or dog cremation. Those final decisions are probably something you’d rather not think about, but somebody has to make sure your pet rests in peace—and within legal limits.


Dealing with Pet Loss: The Vet is the Undertaker

You can count on your veterinarian to dispose of the body if you have your animal euthanized or if the pet dies at the veterinarian’s office.

If you’re considering pet cremation, with ashes to spread in a beloved area, ask your veterinarian for a referral.

If you’d prefer to bury your animal in your yard, let the veterinarian know as you check in for your last visit.

What to Do about Pet Disposal When an Animal Dies at Home

What do you do if your pet dies at home or is killed by a car and you don’t want to deal with the remains? In a city or large town, call your local Dead Animal Disposal Unit.  Such officials will usually come and take the body for disposal. Who pays depends on city or county policy, but don’t be shy about asking whether you’ll incur any charges.

In a small town or rural area, find out whether similar services are available by calling the local Humane Society, sheriff’s office, or police department. Folks there should know or should be able to put you in touch with someone who does.

If you’re more comfortable bringing your dead animal to the vet’s office than having strangers cart off your pet, call and see whether your vet is willing to take care of the body. Most will be. Do this within a few hours of a pet’s death, as decomposition begins quickly.

Making a Pet Grave: Call Before You Dig

If you’re burying anything larger than a guinea pig, find out legal restrictions on burying animals in your yard by calling the county or city Dead Animal Disposal Unit. Most large towns and cities ban the practice because they’re worried about runoff water pollution, but you can sometimes plead for an exception to be made.

Animal burial is usually permitted in rural areas and small towns, but double-check with authorities. If you can’t find a number for the Dead Animal Disposal Unit in the town or county, call the local sheriff’s office or police department, the county health department, or the town hall to find out whom to ask.

Burial Details for a Cat or Dog Memorial

When you prepare to bury your pet, dig a hole deep enough to have at least one to three feet of dirt on top of the body. (Use the higher measure if you live in a wet climate or have light or sandy soil that washes away easily in rain.) That keeps marauding animals from disturbing the body, discourages curious kids from digging up the remains, and keeps the body from washing away in heavy storms.

It’s a good idea to keep all animal graves at least 250 feet from natural water sources such as springs and wells.

After the Pet Funeral, Let There Be New Life

Since you have the ground tilled anyway, consider planting some daffodil bulbs, a flowering bush, rosemary (to symbolize remembrance), or anything else that will commemorate your pet and give you a reason to come outside and think about the animal every now and then.

When the Cold, Cold Ground Is Too Cold

Sometimes the ground is too firmly frozen to allow burial of even the tiniest gerbil. In this case, you have two options: (1) Ask your veterinarian, the city, or the county to dispose of the body, or (2) put the body “on ice” until the ground thaws. If you choose the latter, “bury” a tiny animal in a clay or peat pot (do not use plastic) of indoor potting soil, wrap the pot in a plastic bag, and store the whole thing in a shed, unheated garage, crawl space, or unused tree house until you can “transplant” the body. After the soil thaws, take off the bag and bury the animal, pot and all. The whole thing will eventually become part of the soil. Don’t forget to take care of this as soon as the weather warms up. (Mark a reminder on your calendar!)

For a Bigger Animal, It’s a Bigger Deal

When the animal is larger than a toy breed or cat, it’s best to let the authorities take care of disposal, if that’s an option. But if you’re attached to the idea of burying your pet under his favorite tree out back and he dies in the middle of January, you can wrap the body in four layers of plastic leaf bags and place it in one of those giant handle-lock plastic garbage cans (available at home supply and discount stores). Transplant the body the second the ground can be worked, engaging a backhoe operator (look in the classified ads of your local newspaper under a heading such as “Livestock and Farm”) to dig up the area if necessary. Never proceed without first getting the approval of your city’s or county’s Dead Animal Disposal Unit or, in a small town, the local sheriff’s office or county health department.

Alternatively, check to see whether your vet might have a freezer storage area that you could use or rent until the ground thaws.

This information was provided by Sue Storms, who is the leader of our Westie-lovers group:

Fonzie is looking for an understanding home – a family that has lots of patience (and no cats or young kids) to help him through the transition of moving and accepting a new family. He is a younger, active Westie; healthy, loves to go on walks but is quite vocal and opinionated on many issues!

Attached are a couple pictures of this cute little fella.


If you are interested in Fonzie and wish to speak to his family, please call Michael at 612-889-9111 (cell phone).

I love the slogan my friend, pet photographer Patrick Nau of Minneapolis, uses regarding having your pet’s portraits taken: “Don’t say, ‘I wish I had,” say, ‘I’m glad I did.'”

The photos below of my three West Highland white terriers were taken as part of an annual fund-raising event through the Photographer’s Guild of St. Paul, Minnesota. If you made a donation to Pet Haven Animal Rescue, your photo session for as many pets as you brought in at one time was free and so was one 8×10 photo. (Of course, they wind up with about 100 more  shots you’d love to purchase beyond that, too. And I did, naturally. One such triptych follows below.)

The point is to celebrate your pet’s life all through his/her life, not just as a memorial after he/she dies.

Now, prepare to enjoy my own personal BRAG BOOK of sorts! Click on any images you want to see full size.

Blanche, Keely and Ambrose 2010

photos by Photographers Guild of St. Paul, MN

Final Farewell Photos

Many pet photographers are starting to offer special deals to owners of elderly or seriously ill pets, allowing them to affordably capture their beloved animal companion’s image before it’s too late. If you do miss out on such a photo session, though, you can still memorialize your pet with a pet portrait drawn or painted by an artist from one of your own snap shots.

I’ve yet to meet anyone who’s felt they’d wasted their money after doing either of these things. Ali Jarvis of the Sidewalk Dog recently lost her dog Luc, and though she was initially unsure if she could emotionally withstand having her terminally ill boy in a photo, she had Sarah Beth Photography take the pictures. She is now beyond grateful that she did it. The photos allow her to stay connected with her sweet boy forever.

Ali Jarvis and Luc on his last day. Photo by Sarah Beth Photography.

Another great photographer in the Twin Cities area is Becky Kalin, Lucky Mutt Photography; see her website for her terrific portfolio.

A pet portrait by Peggy Krizak

Above is a beautiful sample Wisconsin artist Peggy Krizak’s work. Contact her at Peggy Krizak’s Pet Portraits.

A final plug is due pet portrait artist Jessie Marianiello of Stray Dog Arts. Go to her site to see more of her wonderful work. Below is a favorite of mine by her:

Lou the singing dog, by Jessie Marianiello

All of the aforementioned photographers/artists are fellow members (with me) of the Pet PAC, a networking association of Minnesota pet-related businesses. I can vouch for their abilities and integrity!


It’s a topic I admit I hadn’t given much thought to, but reading about it, it only makes sense that animals need blood during medical emergencies or surgery just as humans do. I’ve often given blood myself and know it’s a simple, painless procedure that’s so very important to do. I’m going to check with my vet about my Westies donating on their next visit to his office.
This article explains the current expansion of dog blood banks.—Sid

Dog Blood Banks are Rising to Meet Demand

Jun 14, 2010 Valerie Modreski

The demand for canine transfusions and blood replacement has become so high that communities are establishing blood banks to reduce potential pet loss.

When a medical condition or emergency occurs with a dog, it may be in imminent need of blood. To meet this demand canine blood banks are opening, nationally, at a promising rate. Pet owners are donating their pet’s blood as they would their own, and recently established banks are reporting excellent numbers.

Canine Blood Bank Exposition

The concept of blood banking for pets has been around for years, but in recent years it has really taken off. Holly Carey, assistant administrator to the animal blood bank, and registered veterinary technician at LSU’s School of Veterinary Medicine, says the boom can be attributed in part because “there are diseases that we know about now that we may not have known about before.”

The LSU blood bank opened in 1992 and they have since turned into a 24 lour critical care and emergency center. Carey states that dog poisonings are on the rise and once a dog’s blood is tainted in that manner, he may need a complete transfusion. Casey also says “there are a lot of things out there that people didn’t know were toxic, like the Sago Palm”. Poisons have considerably increased their caseload, according to LSU vet techs and staff.

The Popularity of Pet Blood Banks

Before the recent influx of blood banks for dogs, various veterinary offices would have donors on hand. Dog owners would offer their pet’s blood to meet any emergency. Ann Schneider, medical director of the Eastern Veterinary Blood Bank in Severna, Maryland, says “Our blood bank is a little different”, as it is based strictly from a volunteer base. “People bring in their pets to donate blood on a regular basis.” But, she adds, “The need for blood donations grows every year.”

Most veterinary professionals attribute the demand to the fact that animal medicine has grown so much in recent years, and they are able to save dogs that used to have to be put down. When you save a dog’s life, there’s a greater chance that he is going to need blood.

The Future of Blood Banks for Dogs

As of now many of the large banks share their product with vets and animal hospitals in need. The Eastern Veterinary Blood Bank has created a stock supply and Schneider says, “People call us and we ship blood, we also have distribution centers.” These are clinics across the country that keep the EVBB’s blood on hand, ready for delivery in their local area.

The Bank’s staff do a great deal of traveling and admit it is nothing for them to travel hours when they know of a dog willing to donate. Then, the blood products are paid for by clients, or dog owners, and that’s how they are able to continue to offer this much needed service.

Of course, like human blood banks, they are always looking for donors and various incentives are offered at different facilities. These incentives can include free yearly blood work ups, heart worm prevention, various tests done on site and even free food. Sometimes they run drives and offer little giveaways like bandannas and name tags. Then once a dog has been in the volunteer program for a year he automatically becomes eligible to receive free blood for his life’s entirety.

Join my hubby (my surrogate while I’m onstage in a matinee of “Father of the Bride” at Anoka’s Lyric Arts Main Street Stage) for a day of dog-filled fun.

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