…and access for the remains; as stipulated….

I have often wondered at the sheer, to my mind, lunacy of treating animal pets as members of the family. When I was a boy, we had cats, who deigned to allow us to look after them, to feed them; and very occasionally, to stroke them. They were street cats, they fought, scrapped, hunted, killed and survived, and when they died, we slung their bodies in the bin, because that is what you do with remains; whether animal or vegetable. The life spark had gone, the vital energy which sustained them had disappeared, and all that remained was scruffy skin, mottled and scarred fur, bones, tendons and muscle. As I said, bin-fodder.

As I wrote some years back, I visited my mother-in-law at her home in northern London, as I was nearby on a contract visit. In conversation, she said that her long-time friend and companion, an eighteen year-old basset hound, was not only half-blind, almost deaf but was now suffering from the canine form of arthritis in his hind-quarters.

As I have always believed in plain speech, I said that as she had been the beneficiary of many years of companionship with her dog, she should act purely in the spirit of friendship and do the only thing which she was able for her dog’s welfare. I said “Don’t put him to sleep, don’t allow him to go to a nicer place, or any other of the euphemisms which humans use; Kill him! Take him to the vet’s practice and let the animal be humanely killed! Don’t wrap the action with fuzzy sentiment, don’t attribute human qualities to an animal; the damn dog is suffering, kill him!”

Two weeks later, she did just that, and her long-time canine companion went to a silent death by injection.

Which is why I write now to tell you that I have just read THE daftest reader’s letter ever in what else but the Property/DIY sector of my newspaper.  These two characters are selling their house, but are worrying that their pets are buried in the back garden. They do not know whether to exhume the remains, and rebury in their new pad, or tell the prospective new owners that a small corner of their new home is forever ‘Tiddles’ resting place; and would they promise to give reasonable access for sentimental visits?

I despair, I really do.

7 comments for “…and access for the remains; as stipulated….

  1. Stonyground
    September 24, 2016 at 6:50 pm

    There are an assortment of cats and chickens buried in our garden. The graves are unmarked and really, burying them is just a respectful way of disposing of them. Our vet will send your deceased pet off to some kind of communal cremation for a very reasonable fee, we may well be using that service from now on as we are running out of space. As for visiting the dead pets’ graves after you have moved house… I’m lost for words.

    • September 25, 2016 at 10:16 am

      We use this service. Because however much you loved them hanging on to the ashes is… well, odd!

      Mind you, I feel the same way about human remains. As Mike says, it’s just matter.

  2. Penseivat
    September 24, 2016 at 7:04 pm

    I’m just concerned we’ll get a call from the people who bought our house that the recent heavy rain has caused the remains of our daughter’s pony to become visible in the heavily manicured lawn. I would have thought that it would have decomposed by now. After all, we did bury it about 4 months ago, some 12 weeks before we moved. By the way, does anybody want to buy a mini digger?

    • September 25, 2016 at 10:16 am


  3. Errol
    September 24, 2016 at 7:16 pm

    When you die, Mr Cunningham, do we throw your body in the bin? Just chuck it away as it’s now just rubbish? No, you respect it and bury it in memory of the person you were. I can normally respect any view, but this one is just bloody stupid.

    Toward the end of my Newfoundland’s life he couldn’t walk far and was incontient, an event that caused him great shame – and yes, when a dog shuffles over to you and nudges to it, whining he is telling you he has done wrong and is letting you know. He was still a better ‘person’ than most humans I come across in my life. A better friend, better companion than most so, please, respectfully; shove it.

    • September 24, 2016 at 11:06 pm

      No, Errol, your dog, although possibly in pain, didn’t know what shame was, because shame is a human emotion. You seem to have equated a pair of dark, liquid eyes in an animal’s head to those of a fellow human. If that’s your thing; good luck to you.

      As for your kind comments about my earthly end, I am already destined for a quick trip to the crematorium, but, again, many thanks for your kind, understanding comments on my post. (Sarcasm Alert!)

  4. Bob H
    September 25, 2016 at 12:44 pm

    Me myself, my spirit/soul is far more than the limits of my human flesh.

    When I die, as far as I am concerned the fleshly remains can go as dog food, or go in the blender and be raked into the soil around the garden.

    My spirit lives on whatever happens to my flesh.

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