It’s no secret that Americans love our pets. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), between 37- 47% of American families have dogs and 30-37% have cats. But both dogs and cats have a lifespan of less than twenty years at the very most, meaning that inevitably, we have to say goodbye.
When that time comes, some Thurston County pet owners visit Tony Ward at Lasting Touch Memorials looking for ways to commemorate creatures they consider part of the family. “Probably ten to fifteen percent of my business is pet memorials,” says Ward. “For a lot of people, pets are part of the family. For some, it’s like the grandchild or child that they never had. They’ve cared for it, catered to it, and changed their lives for it. The pet is a loved one that’s passed away and they want to commemorate who that being was.”
Clients often bring mementos of their animals to be included as part of the markers, such as pictures or even an imprint of a paw taken from the veterinarian before the animal passed away. “They’ll put that print into the memorial itself,” says Ward. “That’s popular. I’ve done quite a few of those with both dogs and cats.”
He also sells specialized urns for animals that have been cremated. “People will put the urn in a particular place in the house,” he says.
One repeat client is a horse lover who contacts him periodically. “She’s had a lot of horses over the years,” he says. “When a horse passes away, she’ll come to me and get a nice little memorial marker. She has a little garden that she fills up.”
In another case, a client loved his cat enough to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a feline heart transplant. “The cat lasted only four more months, but he was ecstatic,” says Ward. “He was very happy to have that extra time with his pet and he bought a nice marker for a garden memorial for it.”
Many clients want just as much detail on their pet’s memorial marker as they would on a human’s gravestone. Some opt for stones with full dates and sayings like, ‘Best Dog Ever’ or ‘In Loving Memory’ and others choose to include pictures as part of the marker. “People get very emotional,” says Ward. “This may have been a dog that’s been sitting on their lap for the last 20 years. I’ve had huge dogs and little lap dogs and everything in between.”
For garden memorials, Ward offers river rocks. “People can bury the ashes in the backyard or choose a nice spot to bury the rock,” he says. “They feel good about it.” Commemorative stones are also convenient because they are portable. Regardless of how many times the person moves, the memory of their beloved pet can travel with them.
For more information about Lasting Touch Memorials, visit www.lastingtouchmemorials.com or call 360-458-9070.