Losing a pet is often — if not always — a sad and traumatic experience. Over the past 20 years, my wife and I have shared out home with a total of five cats, three of whom have passed away, the most recent in March 2013. It’s never easy to lose a companion animal.
That’s what makes the Los Angeles Times‘ “Column One” story on the Los Angeles Pet Memorial Park, which is actually located about 45 minutes north of downtown, in suburban Calabasas, immediately attractive — the paper itself noted on Facebook that this was one of the week’s most popular news items. Those who’ve lost a pet can identify:
Sheets of blue film cover the windows of the viewing room at the Calabasas graveyard, casting an eerie glow over the Poland funeral party. A jug of water and a glass bowl of brown cookies — for man or animal, it’s unclear — sit untouched.
Sitting on a bench beneath a holographic dog portrait, Shelly Poland writes a letter to Jazz.
Jazz was really his wife’s dog, Greg says. He never wanted a pet and when Jazz died, Greg floated the idea of burying him in the backyard, a suggestion quickly withdrawn.
The story alternates between obituary-style remembrances of the departed pet and a few words about the pet cemetery and the people who are its customers and supporters. The park has a fascinating history, going back to 1928. But apart from one throwaway line, “The small staff connects grievers to florists, priests and rabbis,” there’s no mention at all of a religious or faith-based aspect. Much talk of the human bond between pet owners and pets, but spirituality is only hinted at the margins: