Collected from KB-L during February 2008, by Anne Corke
Recently the question of the week asked “When my last dog died, I ....”. While this may seem a morbid topic, it has generated a lot of discussion from list members as to how they memorialize their Kerries.
As children, our first experience of death is often the death of a beloved pet. Whether we bury a dear hamster in the flower garden under a cross of popsicle sticks, or perform a burial at sea (flush) for a favourite goldfish, our ceremonies help us to cope with our grief and serve to acknowledge the important role that our departed pets played in our lives.
Here are some of the comments we received from our Kerry community:
Carol Vesey, Texas:
Both of my beloved Kerries, Katie Collins and Kelly Colleen, were cremated and when I die, their ashes will go with me. They are kept in my dresser drawer with their favorite things and I visit m'ladies every so often. I recently had to put my mother's Shepherd down and had her cremated. She was mom's soulmate so I took her ashes to the cemetery and worked them into the ground around mother's gravestone. It completed a circle of life for them.
Margaret, South Africa:
I have not had my dear departed Kerries cremated. I have a small rose garden and they get buried under or next to a rose. My Gemma who died as a result of a dreadful wound in a bad place that got gangrene, had a rose planted with her. It's still Gemma's rose.
One of my sold Kerries came back to me many years ago. The owner just couldn't bear to see her go and I buried her under a peach tree. Some years later the peach tree had to go and we found Joy's bones. She had had a bad leg break that had to be plated and this I found and the local vet was delighted to have such a bone.
Rita Lockwood, Oregon:
When our Jake died, Brian made the decision. He was with him at the end, and he buried him on family property underneath a tree. He spent the rest of the daylight hours planting a garden in our yard. From my point of view, he was participating in the cycle of life.
My personal choice is cremation, but then I choose to put the ashes in favorite spots. I may bury some under a favorite rose bush. I choose to think of the remains as giving life to something such as Jake's tree or my rosebush. The spirit, having separated from the body, is free and may be remembered and enjoyed in other ways.
Jan & Ron Beckett, Illinois:
Duffy was being treated for Lymphoma, but was only in remission for about two weeks. He let us know when it was time to help him cross the Rainbow Bridge when his non-stop wagging tail came to a halt and he hung his head and tail. The look in his beautiful dark eyes also let us know. It was 9:00 PM on June 15, 2006. Ron had to carry him down the one step to the back yard to potty and instead of taking him for his chemo treatment the next morning, we made the final trip to the Vet. Ron and I and our other Kerry, Jenny, accompanied him and my daughter met us there. We spent a long time with him in the private room they gave us as he laid very quietly on the soft comforter provided by the clinic. We stroked him, held him and told him how much we loved him.
The Vet came in when we were ready to let him go and we stayed for a little while after that. We have his ashes in a beautiful wooden container with a photo frame on one side of it. It sits on my husband's night stand where we can see him before we go to bed and first thing in the morning. He was quite the talker, kisser and protector of the house and lives on in our hearts. We miss him so very much.
Sharon Arkoff, Mssachussets:
BJ, who came to us as a 14-year-old and stole our hearts, now reposes in a coffee mug on the counter near the oven (his favorite appliance). Trust me; this is the spot he would have chosen for himself, unless we could find a pizza delivery driver who was willing to tie his ashes to the rearview mirror or whatever.
Our first Kerry, Heather (who raised me), is buried in the yard back home, which is kind of too bad; no one ever goes back there, and she would have preferred being near the couch. Duffy is now living on borrowed time, but gives every sign that he'll be borrowing a lot of it (he never got the memo that he has cancer, and whatever drugs they're prescribing for him, I want some!). When he goes, he'll have to go in a container in the fridge. That would be his idea of heaven. Bits is forbidden to die, but were she ever to disobey me in this way, she gets a jeweled Faberge egg, nested in a bed of liver treats. Not that this will ever be necessary.
We haven't lost a Kerry yet, but we did lose our Cocker/Poodle mix about 3 years ago. Since she was my childhood pet, she is buried in my parents backyard--complete with gravestone. It hit us all hard.
I've been dreading the possibility that Arrow's passing was imminent, given all the struggles we've had with her. Especially since we recently had a scare with an unusual growth they thought may be cancer (it wasn't). However, we seem to have turned a corner and she's improving and we are beginning to think we will have many years left with her. However, we don't believe it'll ever be enough. Long lived a breed as Kerries may be, it's still not long in the scheme of things. Our hound, on the other hand, we expect to be around till our son (who's currently an infant) graduates from High School. We're thankful for a breed that regularly lives into their 20s. So she's not allowed to die for a long, long time.
Chelo Lewter, Tennessee:
Tom and I took Camelot to the vet when it was time...Camelot told us with his eyes that he was ready to go to Doggie Heaven. He passed in a most dignified manner...a true Kerry! We had our beloved doggie cremated and his ashes are in a beautiful pewter acorn on our mantle with his pictures when he was 7 months old and another when he was 7 years old...when he was called to Doggie Heaven. A short life but filled with love that only a Kerry can give. He was a counter-surfer extraordinaire and I am sure he has trained many a Kerry who passed after him in his "art"...so despite our grief we can laugh at his antics and know he is still very much alive in our hearts. He also left behind treats for Chanel and Lancelot in his special cookie jar.
Diane Ridd, UK:
I left the body of my much loved Feargal - Dorbra Diamond at the Vet, because I will always carry him in my heart.
N'Anne, New Mexico:
Here it is Valentine's day and we of all people are talking about our KB kids and all the joys and the heart aches we have with them-a breed that we all can't say enough about..so here goes the story of the Smith's Kerry Blues. Right now there are four little boxes in Janet's closet with their names on and a picture of each one. They are Keri, Lisbet, Molly Marietta, Timmy Pat and Brigadoon. Janet is now with them in a beautiful cherry box. She being a wood worker made all the boxes for them and us! Now that Janet has joined them, I spend ample time talking to them all and we will be joining them in due time. The Plan is to have all our Kerries intertwined with us and then scattered in the mountains of New Mexico, a place we have all loved to walk and run.
Course now that I have told you the plan, Addy J. is going nuts at the door to be left out and Ganner Claire says I have no plans at all!! Just let me be with my brother. So on that note, Happy Valentine's day and keep your Kerries close by for a hug and a kiss that day!
Janet McCallen, Georgia:
Our beloved Jenny was cremated, and is in a wooden cask on a prominent shelf in our bedroom, alongside a darling picture of her in little girl sunglasses, taken only a month or two after we got her. I've buried dogs in the past, and I like this much better - mainly because when you sell a house and move, then that touchstone is lost.
When the toaster oven "dings" that the toast is done, one of us will always go "Woo, woo, woo," which is what Jenny always did when it dinged. She will never be forgotten.
Anne Corke, Ontario, Canada:
We have a doggy cemetery in our backyard under the cherry tree. There is a small steel sculpture of a doggy angel on the lowest branch and a stone which reads "Peace" over our old friends, Susy, Tristan and Cassie. Dickens urn is on a shelf in the basement with his therapy dog tag hung on a ribbon over it. My husband wants Dickens ashes inurned with his when he leaves and I will have Lexie inurned with me. Should we move from this house, I will insist that the boxes containing the ashes of the others be exhumed and brought along with us. And I don't care what the neighbours think!!! (Each box has that Kerry's name tag attached for identification.) We also make memorial donations for our dogs to favourite charities such as the Pet Trust and the Farley Fund at the Ontario Veterinary College in Guelph.
Whatever arrangements we make for our departed friends, we make to remember them and all that they have brought to our lives... the love, the laughter, the tears. Surely the final word belongs to Ben Lampman, who wrote in 1925: “The one best place to bury a dog is in the heart of his master.”