Since we’re in the dog days of summer, seems only appropriate to consider what to do when Fluffy and Fido’s days are no more.
Personally, I do not plan on having this quandary because I made Riley and Oliver both promise never to grow old and to never die. The boys had a bit of a problem with the pinky swear — the dewclaw had to suffice — but they seemed to be onboard. They didn’t really know what forever is but if it is filled with dog treats and the squeaky ball, they’re good. As the keeper of the treats and ball, I just have to figure out a way to stay eternal myself.
But on the off chance that the pups one day find themselves headed to that great park in the sky — and if they can’t stop rolling around in dirt or dismantling their bed I might be the one that sends them there — it seems there are now several burial options.
Used to be one took their beloved furry, feathered or scaly pet companion to the veterinarian, the bathroom or the backyard at the end of their lives. Now, though, the annual $56 billion pet industry is expanding past the sparkle collar, holiday sweaters and dog therapists to burial, cremation and unique send-offs way outside the funeral box.
In Florida, a company will lift a pet to heaven — literally. The Eternal Ascent Society puts the remains in a 5-foot round helium balloon and releases in a location of the family’s choosing. About 5 miles above the ground, the balloon breaks apart and the ashes are scattered to the wind. The price tag? Three-hundred-and-ninety-nine dollars although a bigger balloon (maybe for a Great Dane or mastiff?) carries a bigger price tag. So does a videotape of the event which is probably going to be just as appreciated by houseguests as wedding and birth footage.
If that’s not your thing, an Illinois company called LifeGem can turn your pet into a synthetic diamond. Depending on size, the process ranges from $1,999 to $24,999. I’ve got two dogs — one for each ear! After all, my overly social Jack Russell does fancy himself a bit of a stud so a post earring seems a bit fitting.
The Earth-friendly types might prefer aquamation which is sort of like cremation but using water-based technology called alkaline hydrolysis that results in powdery sand-like ashes. My Ollie isn’t much of a water fan so that would just seem mean, even in the afterlife.
For pets that are out of this world, maybe send their remains to exactly that place. Celestis Pets, an offshoot of a company that is already giving the Gene Roddenberry treatment to humans, now offers the service for their animals. A small bit of the ashes are placed in a container and shipped as part of other space trips like that of satellites. Loving them to the moon and back — well, maybe not back — will set you back at least $12,500 but a trip around the Earth is a mere $4,995. And for the cost-conscious, the remains can make a quick jaunt to the edge of space and come back to his or her owner for $995.
This last choice would likely mark the only time either of my dogs came back to me when I wanted them to. That might be reason enough to consider a little posthumous trip.
Or I could just go for the old standby of taxidermy or freeze-drying. Riley has a habit of blocking his little brother from passing so if he goes first I’ll use his statue to keep Oliver in line. I won’t even need to worry about an open front door. Riley’s fuzzy little body will literally act as a guard dog.
As interesting, if not quite bizarre, as these approaches are to consider, I needn’t worry my head about them. As I said, the dogs have promised to stick around for the long haul. Yet just in case, it’s good to know that disposal needn’t be beastly.
Michelle Durand’s column “Off the Beat” runs every Tuesday and Thursday. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or (650) 344-5200 ext. 102. Follow Michelle on Twitter @michellemdurand What do you think of this column? Send a letter to the editor: email@example.com.