“Brian arrived in our home with the ability to not only sit, but also “give paw.” Being able to destroy any crate, gate, door handle or trim and molding in his way, Brian quickly began building loving relationships with all those who came in contact with him, whether it be a new vet, animal control, or whoever’s house he found his way to for an uninvited romp.”
To the DiBella family, Brian was more than a pet. He was part of the family. And so when he passed away, they wanted to share the story of his life with others. They sent his obituary to a local news station and they agreed to publish it. The DiBellas’ story is part of a growing trend. More and more families are taking the time to write and publish obituaries about their furry friends.
Historically, newspapers only published obituaries of famous animals or those that belonged to famous people.
Examples include author E.B. White’s dog Daisy, who had an obituary published in the New Yorker in 1932. Or for Sergeant Stubby, whose 1926 New York Times obituary told the story of a dog who served in 4 major offensives in WW1.
But today, obituaries for pets — even the less famous ones — are much more common. In part, it’s due to the internet and social media. They provide a place for people to share memories and photos for any and all pets. There are some memorial sites, such as Critters.com or Doggy Heaven, that are exclusively for digital pet memorials.
An Outlet for Grief
While some people debate whether animal obituaries belong in the paper or not, many agree that there are benefits to writing about a pet’s life — whether online or in a private journal.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, licensed funeral director Skip Wyland said that it helps the grieving process. Pet obituaries are part memorial, part therapy, and act as an outlet for grief.
Jenna Stregowski, an RVT, wrote in an article for the Spruce, saying “a written tribute will help you process your emotions. If you decide to publish it online, it can give others a chance to see the love you have for your dog. Other pet owners may find comfort in it as well.”
Below are some recent examples of pet obituaries we’ve seen written by the people who loved them.
Mikee the Monkey
Mikee was a beloved macaque monkey from Minnesota. He was well-known for his stylish clothes, his pet kitten, and for taking some long walks on the lake.
“Mikee spent his days in his room, where his big-screen TV was preprogrammed for channels such as Animal Planet and the History Channel and the show ‘Modern Marvels.’” — Read the full obituary here.
Julius the Tortoise
“Confined to the house in winter, he roamed widely and was often found dozing in cupboards, hissing if disturbed. He was either devoted to my partner, whom he followed around doggedly, or viewed him as an implacable enemy to be destroyed (our interpretations differed). A firm scratch of his leathery chin would encourage his head to emerge slowly and his beady eyes to close in bliss.” — Read the full obituary here.
Big Mama the Chicken
“Big Mama joined us at College Station shortly thereafter, and soon discovered how beautiful life could be walking the grass, being a member of a flock, and having 24-7 love.” — Read the full obituary here.
Not only did the family honor Big Mama with an obituary, the chicken also received its own tribute song.
What are your thoughts on people posting pet obituaries? Share with us in the comments below!