Watching your senior pet age or losing a beloved pet to illness or an accident is very difficult and challenging. As our 3 dogs aged, they got ill and weaker and we saw them struggle with their age and health, making it very difficult to watch. But we still continued to deeply love them and care for them until their final breaths.
Even if your pet has already crossed over, you can still explore new ways to carry them in your heart. Creating new memories during your pet’s senior years or finding ways to celebrate the memory of a pet who has passed on can help you in your own healing process.
How you honor your pet is up to you and will help their life story continue on. That’s how I felt when I was able to start my pet photography business using photos of our beloved dogs that had passed. That is how I chose to honor our dogs.
If you’re searching for a way to celebrate your pet’s life, I’d like to share these 9 ways that can help you carry them in your heart.
1. Hire a photographer for a portrait
A professional pet photographer is an expert at capturing your pet’s essence. At Pawfect Photo Moments, we love capturing those candid moments with you and your pet that shows their personality on full view, in a way that captures those moments in time that you’ll remember the rest of your life. We specialize in crafting custom portraits that you can hang on your wall to honor your pet’s life long after they have passed, in a way that is dignified to them.
2. Create a custom piece of wall art
You can make or hire someone to make you a piece of art that celebrates your pet’s life. Or you can gather a number of photographs and artwork to frame and gather together on one wall.
3. Create your own memorial paw print or nose print art in ceramics or with garden stones
My favorite is the paw print stepping stone that you can place on the way to your garden or shed. Make sure you use pet-friendly, non-toxic inks, paints and other supplies!
4. Donate time to a nonprofit that helps animals
Contributing your time or skills, especially on an important date like your pet’s own Gotcha Day, is an incredible way to help other animals, too. There are tons of amazing local pet rescues in Colorado Springs that I’ve worked with, such as Wild Blue Cats and Rocky Mountain Cocker Rescue.
5. Invest in a memorial tree
Better Place Forests sells memorial trees to honor pets and other family members, or you can plant a special tree for them and watch it grow over time in your backyard or garden or gift it away to a friend or family member.
6. Turn their water or food bowls into house planters
Depending on the material, you can upcycle their food or water bowls to provide a home for a new houseplant. If it doesn't already bear their name, you can decorate it with their dog collar, paw print, or hand paint their name on it.
7. Make a memory box
…and then look through it whenever you miss them. You could keep prints of your favorite photos together, their collar, a few of their favorite treats and toys, or a tuft of hair.
8. Celebrate their birthday, gotcha day or the anniversary date of their passing.
Take the day off work. Go for a hike in a place you shared together. Invite an animal-loving friend to share the day. Think about the special days of the year and plan remembrance celebrations ahead of time so you can look forward to them. We always look back through photos of our dogs when their anniversary of their passing comes around.
9. Put together a photo album or video collage
You’ll have something cherished to look at for years to come. If you have an Apple device, you can use iMovie or your favorite video editing software to put together a video collage of all the times you spent together.
Personally, the next time a beloved pet I know passes away, I’ll recommend 2, 5, 7, and 9 to their owner.
Watching your pet age or dealing with the grief following a pet’s death can be heartbreaking. Please seek out professional support if that feels right for you. Lasting Paws Pet Memorial Services in Colorado Springs offers group grief counseling for people dealing with pet loss and can be a great way to work through the grief you feel at the passing of a beloved pet.