This has been a month of unplanned projects. By that, I mean that I've had a number of projects that have stolen my time and attention this month. I've practiced my video editing skills, had some presentations about websites and organizing your digital resources whether they be pictures or records, and finished some other projects. I've just completed the text of my first cemetery tour, and will be working on turning it into a downloadable audio file for people to download to an MP3 player, and take with them to the cemetery. I am considering adding a video component this summer.
If you didn't submit your story for the book project honoring the former caretaker of Riverside Cemetery in Denver, Cliff Dougal, you still have time! If you would like to submit a story Cliff told you, or tell one of your memories of Cliff, please use this submission form.
Recently, my sister lost her furry friend of many years, and as I was looking for a topic for this month's newsletter, I was thinking of this sad event, and wondered about the cemeteries devoted to pets.
Pet Cemeteries in Colorado
I admit, pet cemeteries have not been part of my interest in cemeteries. I don't think that the Stephen King novel, or the horribly movie adaptation have much to do with this, but, I suspect they did not help.
I have never been to a burial ground devoted exclusively to pets, and further admit, that this has not been part of my family's tradition for mourning our animal companions. And, as I've started researching this topic, I realize that I am not entirely certain how I feel about the whole notion.
While I have compassion for animals and have mourned the loss of my pets, there is a certain part of me that finds the idea of a pet cemetery strange and off-putting. Perhaps I am a speciest. Perhaps I find it strangely morbid. Perhaps I was lying about how much affect the Stephen King story had on my young, impressionable mind.
Before looking into this subject, I was only aware of one pet cemetery in the Denver metro area. I passed it one day while carrying out an errand in a seldom visited part of town. I found it sad, and, unlike the usually positive feelings I have when seeing a cemetery for people, I had few positive impressions of what I saw. Something about the place screamed "tasteless and maudlin," and I couldn't put my fingers on the reasons for my discomfort.
I know that this was a way for people to grieve their beloved family members, and I don't wish to discount their pain, nor to demean their expressions of remembrance and loss. Certainly, that was not the root of whatever was causing my uncomfortable feelings about this place.
I think it really stemmed from a sense of cynicism and an almost exploitative air I got from the office and the part I saw.
From a distance, it looked more like a self-storage place. The sign announcing its true nature was, in an eerie parallel to the Stephen King horror tale, hand-painted, and while spelled correctly, was created by one who has a poor notion of typography. The office was a small, brick structure, and it was not in good repair, and the flag, hanging limply from the pole in front, was shredded. Not much remained beyond the field of blue, and some hints of red and white stripes.
The fenced-in space which encompassed the small strip of land between run-down buildings, was bounded by a gated single lane road, that appeared to be both the entrance to the burial ground and also the exit, and it was clearly poorly conceived, with little thought as to how it would be used.
If the disgraceful state of the flag did not tell the tale, the front flower bed, which was possibly also a place for burials, but, it was unclear from a quick glance, was filled with trash. A poorly dressed person was watering this flower bed while smoking, giving an impression the he was annoyed about the task, and radiated antipathy about the place, and, maybe even the entire world.
I was not enticed to make use of such a place for any creature in my acquaintance, much less a beloved pet.
With those being my impressions of pet cemeteries, I asked Google if there were other options, and what they might be.
I found a few, which left a much more favorable impression.
In my search, I learned that the Evergreen Memorial Park, which is in Jefferson County, and also a burial spot for humans, has a pet cemetery. There are some nice pictures of the place, and it seems very much like the "human" part of the site.
I have seen a few graves for pets in other cemeteries, but, not as part of a "pets only" area, but, most of those spots are in the rural cemeteries, and I suspect they might have simply been "snuck in."
What I know is that if anyone is going to operate a burial ground for pets, it should be a respectable place, with dignity, and not something which looks like it exists merely to make a few dollars from bereaved pet owners.
I'd love to hear from you your opinions on pet cemeteries, and if you have found a place to memorialize your pet.
Around the Web
A tale of the Civil War graves at Riverside Cemetery.
History of Queens, NY as seen through its cemeteries.
An update on the Colorado cemetery bill, which has now been stalled, as cemeteries fear that the burdens imposed by the bill will be too much for them.
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