Over the past few weeks, many people I know have lost beloved friends.  On the 8th of January, I joined the sad circle of mourners when my sweet Luke died. When you lose a dog, in the midst of your tears come the decisions as you try to decide what to do with his body.  Taking some time now to consider your options can save you angst later on.
Veterinarians have the ability to dispose of your dog’s body. There is usually a charge for this disposal, and your dog’s body won’t be returned to you.
If you own your property, you have the option of burying your dog. Neither Opelika or Auburn have restrictions against burying your dog within city limits, so only Lee County regulations must be followed, which specify that the animal must be buried two foot below the ground. Of course, you may only inter your dog on your private property.  In my case, our home sits on a piece of property that is already a resting place for other beloved pets, and Luke was able to join them. This spring I hope to do some planting to make the area more visually appealing when I visit their graves.
If you are not a home owner and want to bury your dog, you do have options. A web search will show you cemeteries within driving distance of our area. You can elect a simple burial or have a full memorial service, and have a place to go visit your buddy when you wish. However you choose to bury your dog, a web search will show you a variety of generic or personalized stones with which to mark the grave if you wish.
Another possibility is cremation. Most vets have a relationship with a service that will pick up your dog’s body from the office, cremate him and return his cremains to the veterinarian for you to collect. If your dog dies at home, you can transport him to your vet’s office, take the body to the crematorium yourself, or make arrangements for the crematorium to get him from your home.
When the cremains are returned to you they are typically placed in a simple metal tin. You can leave them in this, or find a wide variety of urns.  These urns range from custom etched stones to photo cubes and statuary.  Some people choose to spread ashes in a special location. There are other things you can do as well. One company will place ashes into a stuffed animal. Others make a wide variety of glass sculptures and keepsakes ranging from jewelry items to paperweights to glass tennis ball replicas. Other businesses turn ashes into diamonds suitable for a ring or necklace.
I could not handle the thought of burying my Gemma and possibly moving away from her grave someday, so I had her cremated. I hope someday that our ashes will be scattered together.  In the meantime, I wear a special piece of jewelry.  A rich, brown cylinder is actually a wearable urn.  I often receive compliments on my unique necklace, and no one knows what’s contained within it unless I tell them. I also have a beautiful European bead on my Pandora bracelet, custom made with specks of Gemma’s cremains glittering within.
The choice of what to do with your dog after he dies is a highly personal decision. Thinking about it now, while your dog is still with you, may be unpleasant, but it saves you trying to make it when you’re distraught.  Whatever you end up doing with your pal’s remains, remember the words of Ben Hur Lampman, penned in 1925.
There is one best place to bury a dog. If you bury him in this spot, he will come to you when you call – come to you over the grim, dim frontier of death, and down the well-remembered path, and to your side again.
And though you call a dozen living dogs to heel, they shall not growl at him, nor resent his coming, for he belongs there.
People may scoff at you, who see no lightest blade of grass bent by his footfall, who hear no whimper, people who may never really have had a dog. Smile at them, for you shall know something that is hidden from them, and which is well worth the knowing.
The one best place to bury a good dog is in the heart of his master.
Karlene Turkington, a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, is a lifelong animal lover who has been training dogs for over 20 years. Readers are welcome to send their questions to: info@TrainMyK-9.com. Information provided here is a basic overview of issues. Specific health or behavioral concerns should be discussed with your veterinarian or qualified animal trainer or behaviorist.