Among the tens of thousands of dog and cat remains, Hartsdale is also the final resting place of birds, rabbits, guinea pigs, and more. Apparently there is also a horse and a lion. (I’ve been there three times and have yet to find the lion’s memorial.)
In 2011, the State of New York decided to ban the burial of human cremains in pet cemeteries, but this ban was lifted this past August. It was a grudging retraction: pet cemeteries are still forbidden from advertising the possibility and from charging a fee (presumably as further disincentive), and must inform prospective purchasers that cremains (in the text of the NYS Register, “cremains” is defined as only human cremated remains) buried in pet cemeteries are not entitled to the same protections as those buried in designated human cemeteries (such as protection from being moved into a mass burial lot in the case of nonpayment, for example).
Many insist that these beloved animals indeed have souls, an afterlife, where the bereaved humans can reconnect with their lost loved ones. I can feel the pain behind the fervent wish to be reunited, to wish that forever is not forever.
And some gravestones reflect the ongoing devotion and sorrow of those left behind.
Some of the gravestones at the Hartsdale Canine Cemetery use the rhetoric of surrogacy, identifying the non-human animal as, essentially, as good as a human relative—and in some cases, perhaps superior.
Next to Larry, the “grandson,” lays Luke, the “son.”
“Our Little Man.”
In case there was any doubt, yes, I did love my cats more than I loved you.
Unabashedly claiming interspecies family.
This one is fascinating: Mickey is not a dog; he is merely a boy in dog-face. I hope someone runs across my blog and is inspired to write a whole article about this.
Stanley Brandes has written about American pet cemetery gravestones, tracking how they evidence the increasing humanization (my word, not his) of pet animals. As they increasingly were given human names and human religious and ethnic affiliations, their gravestones also reflected the pet’s adoption of their human family’s identity.
I love this: pets so beloved, they emigrated with their humans.