Dog owners now can spend eternity resting next to their beloved furry friend.
Resthaven Memorial Gardens on U.S. 15 in Frederick this summer opened the Garden of Faithful Companions, for pet owners who want to be buried next to their dog, or for that matter any beloved animal.
“Over the years we had a number of pet lovers who said, ‘Why can’t I be buried with my pet?’” said Richard Cody, president of Resthaven.
For $900, an owner can purchase a separate burial plot directly next to their plot in the garden. If the owner dies before their pet, the pet still can be buried next to their owner, if that request is included in their will, Cody said.
There are additional costs for a casket and marker. Owners also can purchase additional plots if they have more than one pet. Full funeral setups, including tents, chairs and ground cover, also are available.
“We treat pets like family,” said Heidi Elmore, coordinator of Resthaven’s burial services for pets.
“I want to give you what you want, because this is the end of life for your pet,” she said. “You have to have closure. It’s very life-affirming, to see these people treat animals like they are family.”
Typically, family members simply dig a hole in the backyard and bury their dog. But many homeowners associations and neighborhood regulations have outlawed the practice, Cody said. Additionally, when people move, they must leave their buried pet behind.
So pet owners have turned to Resthaven’s “Pet Haven” for better burial options.
This includes the new Garden of Faithful Companions, cremation, and the Petland pet cemetery, for pets only.
Petland is marked by small graves and markers that pay tribute to beloved cats, dogs and even an iguana.
The grave markers and decorations left behind reveal just how much a pet has meant to its owner. It is evident from the epitaphs and inscriptions that this is a resting place for faithful companions, best friends and even members of the family.
There was the family that held a Catholic service and funeral for their dog, and the Jewish family that buried its dog according to the traditions and customs of the faith, Elmore said. This included burial within a specified time, a pine box and a four-hour prayer service. A Star of David also adorns the grave marker.
“It was beautiful,” she said. “Each one [family member] read a prayer and each one told stories of their dog’s life. It was like a Jewish funeral.”
For $1,200 a pet buried in Petland will get a plot, casket, the opening and closing of the grave, and a marker.
Cremation services also are offered, with a special urn to hold the ashes. Urns are available for dogs, cats, ferrets, foxes, rabbits, squirrels, lizards and other wildlife.
The cost of cremation is based on the size of the animal, and can range from $175 to over $225, Elmore said.
Resthaven is not the only place pet owners can turn to.
The Buckeystown Vet Hospital in Buckeystown also offers a way to memorialize a pet.
For example, depending on the size of the dog, it can cost between $185.75 and $360.50 to have your dog cremated, and its ashes placed in a pine box. A name plate and certificate also are included. The dog is cremated alone, and not with other animals.
“We try to make it comfortable and as smooth a transition as possible,” said Karen Bitler, the hospital’s receptionist. “It’s like losing a best friend. Like me, they will do without before they let their dog go without.”