I think about it now. Bailey, who is now 11, will not live forever. I think about life without him but I think more about when the time comes for us to make one of the most painful decisions, myself as a pet owner will have to face – the decision about how we will handle his remains when he does pass away.
I want to be prepared. Maybe I am worrying for nothing but I do not want to be caught off-guard and having to make a quick decision. I know that many of my friends and family think I am crazy to be thinking about it since most owners would not start thinking about it until the vet is put in the position to ask, “What do you want to do with the body?”
I know that if it comes down to that…I will not be thinking calmly and rationally about my options and the ability to arrive at a well-thought-out decision. I know myself and I will be a headcase. I do not want to make a hasty and rushed decision made at the height of painful emotion and one that I may later regret. Bailey is my first dog…what I mean.. is the first dog I have been responsible for raising and the only Mommy he has ever known. He is my baby….some even say he has my stubborness::))
Bailey’s biological Mom was found tied to a tree pregnant. She had been outside a depanneur on the South Shore for an entire day until the Owner of the Depanneur finally decided to call the SPCA. The Mom and the other baby were adopted by a family in St Lazare and I got Bailey. He is the sweetest and most senstive dog I know..even in his old age!
So, the decisions I make are decisions I feel I have to make ahead of time. As painful as it is, it is not selfish and I want to deal with the future reality in a realistic and responsible manner. I think it is the bestway of facing, and dealing with, this painful reality. But, it also gives me me the opportunity to evaluate and find the best alternative-and in this case-a greener alternative as well. So..what if I want Bailey to have the greenest of burials?
What are my choices?
I know that I will want to preserve his memory but I also know that my decision will be based on my beliefs and my desire to go as green as possible. I will not leave his body with the Vet to dispose of since I do not know where his body will go and there will be no closure for me. I know I will always wonder how his body was laid to rest and where it ended up. How do you spell TORTURE? He will also not end up in a bin at a local humane society..they do exist. How do you spell INHUMANE? It is important to me that Bailey’s remains are treated with the same care that we gave him during his much valued life.
There are several options I have to choose from: home burial, pet cemetery burial, or cremation through a pet crematory.
Since we have a big back yard I could opt for a home burial but what if I move or what if another animal digs up his remains? I would have to ensure that I can dig a deep enough ( 3 feet to be precise) grave to ensure that Bailey’s remains will not be disturbed or become a health hazard. But..who would actually do the digging? And…what if we eventually move? Guess what? In Quebec, we are not allowed to bury our pets in the backyard (or anywhere) so this is not an option.. Anyway, when I look at the greenness in this option, I am faced with the issue of contamination.
Ok..second option: Cremation. This option seems appealing for a variety of reasons . This options would allow me to keep Bailey in his home and I would not have to worry about having his remains disturbed and I could put his ashes in a decorative urn and I could think of him every time I looked at it. It is also an easier option since some veterinarians provide cremation service. There are also private crematoriums. The costs vary ( urn type, weight of dog, public or private) and depends whether I would want his remains returned to me or not….of course, I would opt to spend the extra $$ and have his remains given back to me. But …what about all those gas emissionsin addition to persistent organic pollutants (POP) involved in the cremation process? Urgh!
3rd option: Pet cemeteries. I haven’t had any luck finding one around here. And…when I think about this option, I wonder! After much research, I have found that although some cemeteries allow wood caskets – or no casket – Bailey would be more likely amidst an underground mix of plastic, metal and toxic chemicals. There is also the issue of space and one’s that are regulated. Also, I would have to take in some travel costs just to transport his remains.
So..finally I have decided to not make a decision. Besides a cranky disposition and a bit of arthritis, Bailey is doing fine. I realize that this has been my most difficult blog yet- not easy to talk about his death, or use terms like “remains” and “disposal”, while Bailey is still alive and very much a part of our family.
I know that I will have to face it but what I have decided to do is to seek support, ask questions, do research and acquire knowledge. There is a Canadian Centre for Pet Loss Beravment. I even found that there are certified Pet Loss and Bereavement Counsellors in the Montreal area. There is a Canadian Pet Loss Support Group via Facebook and petnetcanada has a variety of resources on pet loss. There are even some resources (limited but available) on green burials (which hopefully someday will be available to out pets as well).
Right now, I think I will enjoy the day and take Bailey for a long walk through Terra Cotta park….! A dog’s life is way to short and we decided to make the best of every minute of it!