Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Angel's Rest

On my drive back from Kanab to Las Vegas, I make one last stop at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary to drop off the water bowl and blanket which came with Monique on her sleepover and which I'd forgotten to return the day before. There aren't a lot of people at Dogtown's main building but the ones who are there look busy so I just leave the stuff behind on a counter, say "see you" to a recognizable face and walk out.

I drive around the road which rings BFAS for one last look and stop at Angel's Rest, the pet cemetery.

Generally, if someone had just described Angel's Rest to me, with its wind chimes and cutesy animal art, I would have relegated its sentiments to the same shelf which holds ceramic nursery rhyme figurines and pictures of puppies and kittens painted on dishes. I would have put it in the same league as diamond tiaras and pink tutus on teacup poodles.

But then I can be an idiot sometime.

I take a walk around the graves and and I quickly understand that there are no shallow sentiments here. And there is nothing in these grave sites that speak to filial responsibility or respect for the dead or religious tradition because people don't bury and memorialize their pets for any other reason than love.

There are hundreds of graves. Some are indicated by a strip of bent aluminum with the pet's name on it. Some have a photo, many faded, of the pet. Some are marked by carved stone memorials with some words of emotion and wishes for reunion one day. The majority of the graves are covered with one or more polished gems and stones left behind by people as acknowledgment of pets lost but remembered.

These pets have given abundant joy to their owners. This place then is a celebration of that joy and a mourning for the passing of that joy. It is the heaviness of ashes and bone but it is also the freedom of mountains and sky. It is a memory of that joy. It is the breeze that moves the chimes but it is the memory that makes them sing.

So, I listen to the chimes and then I leave.


Lynda said...


Anonymous said...

What a fitting departure. Now I'm misty-eyed.

FrogDogz said...

This is the only thing that makes me question my choice to cremate most of my pets - not having a concrete 'place'to visit.

I have made memorials of their ashes, in a small way, but I sometimes think back on the small pet cemetery my Grandmother had on her property, and I am nostalgic. She bred dogs for 36 years, so there were a lot of graves. Some had a collar looped over the stone. Some had a fading ribbon. Most had a photo. All were someplace that she could walk on occasion to 'talk' with them. I think I miss having that.

Fred said...

Hi FrogDogz, I know what you mean. I've thought about it but never managed to find a suitable permanent location which will always be accessible and not one day be paved over or whatever.

FrogDogz said...

Yes, the 'paving over' part worries me, as well. The area where my Grandmother had her pet cemetery is just that - paved into a parking lot. Her home was turned into a small boutique hotel a few years after she died.

Her kennel building, which was a stable block originally, is now a spa.

I wonder if most of move too much now to be really comfortable with this. The idea of a family home is pretty much gone.

With Ellie, we scattered some of her ashes at Cherry Beach, and brought the rest home. I like that - I can go to Cherry Beach and still feel connected to her.

Doni's Dogs said...

I have had all of my companions cremated. There is a special bookcase in my living room where all of their remains reside. There is a picture of each of them on the shelf above. When I die I will also be cremated and a friend will mix all of our ashes together and sprinkle them over a mountain top some place.

I also have a tattoo that goes up my left arm. There is a paw print for each companion. It is a work in progress. It will eventually have a agate and a rainbow bridge on my left shoulder with the words "Wait for me". When I am thinking of them I rub the paw prints and remember stroking their fur.

When all of this started I did not own my home so I did not have a place where I could place their remains. Now I wouldn't have it any other way.

Find a way to make their remains meaningful for you. Whether you visit a grave side or hold their remains in your hands know that they are always with you and they look forward to the day when the veil between you no longer remains. They miss you as much as you miss them.