If pets are family, shouldn't they be included in the family memorial?

Date Published: 
March, 2006
Original Author: 
Burton Fletcher
AAA Valdosta Memorials
Original Publication: 
ICFM Magazine, March-April 2006

I love animals!  How about you? My pet friends have given me great satisfaction during my life. Unlike my human friends, my animal friends were always there for me. They were with me when the whole world seemed to have abandoned me.

A lot of folks feel the same way I do about animals, and more and more people are memorializing them. My family has a long list of animal friends who will be remembered this way.

Sheba was our beloved German shepherd, present during my boyhood. Sam was an "Old Yeller" type of dog, solid, reliable and good-natured, too. Wimpy was a Chihuahua who decided that Sam would be her mate, and to our amazement, they produced Tiger, a playful dog with a big heart.

Coco was another one of our Chihuahuas. I once got too close to Coco's box when she was nursing a new litter of pups. She chomped down on my bottom lip, tightly holding on as I stood straight up. That was a moment I will never forget. Fortunately, there was no harm done to either of us.

We also had ponies when I was a teenager. Dynamite was mine; Mammy was the one ridden by my sisters, Emma Jean and Lena. I used to enjoy riding Dynamite bareback, and my cousin Billy recalled riding behind me, listening to me describe Dynamite "changing gears" as she went from a trot to a gallop.

Then there was Tom the steer, a hand-fed Holstein with a delightful disposition. You could walk right up to him; he liked to have his head scratched. My sister Emma Jean called him "Tom-Tom,"

I was sad when he met his inevitable end. I decided then that one should never make a pet of—or name—any animal being raised for food.

Princess and Charlie were my feline companions for many years, living with me from the time they were young kittens until old age.

Melvin was a beautiful scarlet Macaw that I owned for six years. I still possess a scar or two that from time to time remind me of Melvin. Macaws are loud, messy birds, and too much maintenance for me, but I enjoyed Melvin and his contribution to our household.
I used to take Melvin for walks through the neighborhood, drawing looks from the neighbors. I still run into people who say, "You're that guy who used to walk through the neighborhood with that parrot on his arm."   I sold Melvin to a neighbor in 1997 when my living situation changed and I had no place to keep him. I hope he continues to have a good life; macaws can live to be 100 years old.

For more than a decade, I have had a pet Chihuahua named Muffin. She is approximately 11 years old and, like myself, on the downslope of life. She is my constant companion, traveling almost everywhere with me. She still sleeps under the blankets with her papa most nights.

The Fletcher family pet memorial will honor Muffin, as well as all the other pets who have been our friends, and will have a permanent place in our family memorial site. Somehow, memorializing these friends and companions just seems like the thing to do.