Losing a pet can be a difficult and painful experience. Bereaved owners often seek ways to memorialize their beloved pets in an effort to celebrate the happiness and joy the pets brought to their lives. In addition to traditional methods for memorializing a pet, including engraved stones and decorative urns for preserving the pet's ashes, there are less traditional -- but very creative -- alternatives for memorializing a pet.
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In his book The Last Will and Testament of a Distinguished Dog, Eugene O'Neill's protagonist, an old dog named Blemie, states that his owners should frame his collar and tags and mount them on a wall facing west, where all dogs go to find their final hunting grounds. Many owners have chosen this route in memorializing their dogs, cats, and horses. A collar or halter can be beautifully mounted in a shadowbox with the pet's name on a brass plaque on the frame and hung as a tribute to the pet. You could also use favorite toys, a bit of a beloved bed or blanket, or other tangible items to fill a shadowbox, perhaps along with a photo collage.
A portrait is a great way to pay tribute to a pet. Many animal artists can work from a photograph to paint or draw a portrait of your pet. It is very easy to find artists to do this via the internet. You'll want to provide the artist with a high-quality photo of your pet that captures your pet's nature---playing, cuddling with a favorite toy, taking a nap in the sun, participating in a show or agility trial, or just hanging out being herself. If you go this route, take a good look at the artist's work beforehand and make sure you like his or her style and are confident in his or her ability to draw or paint your pet.
Website memorials are increasingly popular among pet lovers and can be customized to create a unique and lasting tribute. You can upload photos, videos, and text to describe your pet and celebrate its life. Some websites offer free space for memorials; others charge yearly or one-time fees to set up a page. Some popular websites for pet memorials include critters.com, ilovedmypet.com, immortalpets.com, liferecorded.com, and tributepet.com.
Replica Plush Animals
One relatively new way to memorialize your pet is to have a plush replica created. Using photographs of your pet, plush replica makers create a plush toy that matches your pet's conformation and colors as closely as possible. At least one company, Heidi's Custom Plush Creations, indicates that it offers a plush, unbreakable option to a memorial urn that includes a hidden, velvet inner encasement for storing your pet's ashes.
LifeGems are lab-created diamonds from a pet's ashes or hair clippings. LifeGems can be made in almost any size, from .20 carats to more than 1 full carat, and can be made in a variety of colors. LifeGems can be mounted just like natural diamonds in rings, pendants, earrings, and more. While LifeGems are more expensive than many other kinds of memorials, they are permanent tributes that can be passed from generation to generation.