LATimes skips obvious ‘ghost’ in pet cemetery story

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┬áLos 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 He never wanted a pet and when Jazz died, Greg floated the idea of burying him in the backyard, a suggestion quickly withdrawn.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:

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