On 35 acres in Washington, D.C., dogs romp among the remains of 80 members of Congress, cabinet members, generals, foreign diplomats, J. Edgar Hoover and John Philip Sousa.
Strange as it sounds, Roll Call reports that, at the Historic Congressional Cemetery, “the dogs and dead coexist in an arrangement that works for both of them, particularly when it comes to the graveyard’s operating expenses.”
About 25 percent of the two-centuries-old cemetery’s operating budget comes from the dog-walking members of what’s called the K9 Corps.
As explained by Patrick Crowley, former chairman of the cemetery association’s board and now interim senior manager, people have been walking their dogs in the cemetery for more than 30 years, but up until around 2000, the area was avoided by many.
“In 1990, it was a drug war zone,” Crowley said. “The early dog walkers would stick to the main loop and band together,” he said. “… The morning dog walkers, their job was to clean up the hypodermic needles. They had to [do it] very carefully to not stick yourself.”
By around 2001, with improvements to the neighborhood, Crowley said he started charging dog walkers dues. The K9 Corps became an official organization of the preservation association in 2007. Membership costs $200 per family and $50 per dog.
Dog owners are also asked to volunteer at least 12 hours per year, picking up trash, pulling weeds and policing the area to make sure non-member dogs don’t use the grounds.
Posted by jwoestendiek March 1st, 2012 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, burial, cabinet, cemetery, congress, congressional cemetery, dc, diplomats, dog walkers, dogs, fees, generals, historic congressional cemetery, j edgar hoover, john philip sousa, k9 corps, membership, patrick crowley, pets, remains, washington
Back in April, New York’s Division of Cemeteries issued an edict to pet cemeteries, prohibiting the burying of pet owner’s ashes alongside the remains of their beloved pets.
The order from the state office came after an Associated Press story about the growing number of Americans who have decided to share a final resting place with their pets, and who, because pet remains aren’t often welcome in human cemeteries, have opted to spend eternity in a doggie graveyard.
Apparently, this was news to the cemetery division — even though it has been going on, most everywhere, for a long time. A good 700 humans — in cremated form — had been interred at New York’s 115-year-old Hartsdale Pet Cemetery before the state told it to stop.
That order came in February, and in April it was extended statewide.
Last week, the state Division of Cemeteries issued new regulations, once again permitting animal lovers, in cremated form, to rest in peace with their pets in pet cemeteries.
The new regulations, CBS News reported, do impose some conditions: Pet cemeteries may not advertise that they accept human ashes; nor may they charge a fee for doing so.
A spokesman for the department that oversees the cemetery division said the prohibition was put in place because cremated remains in pet cemeteries don’t have the same protections as those in human cemeteries — namely the assurance that the cemetery will be maintained.
Like anyone’s ashes — dog or human — are going to care about that.
The ruling had kept the ashes of at least one human from being buried. Taylor York, a law professor at Keuka College said the state order meant the ashes of her uncle, Thomas Ryan, who died in April, couldn’t be buried alongside his deceased dogs.
York sent the cemeteries division a legal memo detailing why the state was wrong in banning burials of cremated human remains in pet cemeteries.
As the cemetery division saw it, law mandates that any cemetery providing burial space for humans be operated as a not-for-profit corporation. By promoting the human-interment service and charging a fee to open a grave and add ashes, Hartsdale was violating laws governing not-for-profit corporations.
But Hartsdale isn’t a non-profit corporation.
“The law is clear,” York said. “There’s no authority for this board to just arbitrarily impose nonprofit corporation law on a privately incorporated for-profit business.”
All the boring legal stuff aside, there really was, and is, no good reason to get bent out of shape about ashes, of whatever species. We throw them in the ocean, we cast them in the wind, we can even use them to make trees grow.
And there’s no good reason for a state government to bury us, or our simple last wishes, in red tape.
“My uncle wants to be buried beside … what he considered to be his children and I’m not letting anyone stand in the way,” York said before the new ruling was issued. “His love for those dogs was just as real and just as strong as any parent’s for any child.”
Posted by jwoestendiek December 21st, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, ashes, ban, beside, burial, buried with dog, buried with pet, cemetery, cremains, cremated, cremation, division of cemeteries, dogs, edict, grave, hartsdale, interment, legal, maintenance, new york, next to, order, pet cemetery, pets, protections, regulations, repeal, rest in peace, resting place, taylor york, thomas ryan, with
When their dog Scamp was hit by a car, a Washington state family checked his seemingly lifeless body, then put him under a wheelbarrow, planning to bury him the next morning.
Paul McKinlay, 61, had been speaking with his son in his front yard in Yelm when Scamp, an 8-month-old Yorkie-shih tzu mix (not Shiatsu, as ABC News reported) slipped underneath the fence and ran into the street.
McKinlay heard a yelp and a thud and arrived at the street to find the dog motionless and the female driver crying.
“We checked to see if we felt any breathing out of his nose, and we couldn’t feel any heartbeat,” said Reta McKinlay.
Her husband wrapped the dog — who they’d brought home for their granchildren this summer — in a blanket. They placed his body under an overturned wheelbarrow so no animals could get to him, with plans to bury Scamp in the morning.
Then, they broke the news to the 6-year-old twins — granchildren who live with them.
“[Paul] was going to bury him the next morning so we went into the house and just told the kids the dog had gotten hit by a car and that he had gone to heaven like in that movie, ‘All Dogs Go to Heaven.’ My grandson was crying. He asked if [Scamp] evaporated like in the movie and I said, ‘Yes, that’s what happened.’”
But when Paul McKinlay went outside the next morning and lifted up the wheelbarrow, Scamp was sitting up.
Four days and $3,000 in vet bills later Scamp, who’d suffered a concussion, broken teeth and a possible jaw fracture, was brought home by the McKinlays — much to the suprise of their twin granchildren, who, just in case Scamp didn’t make it, hadn’t initially been told that the dog was still alive.
Mrs. McKinlay said her husband had been “distraught” that he left Scamp out in the cold, but vets told the couple that the cold temperatures could have kept the dog alive, by keeping his brain from swelling.
“Sometimes God’s just not ready to take something away,” she said.
Posted by jwoestendiek December 16th, 2011 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: accident, alive, animals, body, burial, bury, car, christmas, concussion, dead, dog, dogs, found, heartbeat, heaven, hit, miracle, outside, paul mckinlay, pets, presumed, reta mckinlay, scamp, shih-tzu, sitting, survived, survivor, washington, wheelbarrow, wrapped, yelm, yorkie
While there’s much to scoff at when it comes to the industry that has blossomed around bidding farewell to our dead pets — especially those that promise life after death — I’m not quite ready to scoff at this idea.
In fact, I may even like the concept of turning your deceased dog into a tree.
But just so you can be sure I’m not shilling for the company behind this product, I would point out that you could probably do the same thing with your dog’s ashes without a special, fertilizer filled, biodegradable, $90 “Geos” urn.
The Geos urn — one of four offered by a company called Limbo Zoo — is designed to hold a pet’s ashes and serve as the medium in which a seedling (you supply it) can grow into a tree.
“The nutrients that conform this handcrafted earth-made urn combine with those of the fertile ashes to form a beautiful tree,” says the website.
The company also offers the “Nu” urn, which is made of sea salt and designed for burials at sea, and the “Samsara” urn, made of fine sand and designed for burials in fresh water, like a lake or river.
The urns are advertised as an environmentally responsible alternative and billed as both “durable,” and “biodegradable.” They’re designed to stay intact for a while, and then disintegrate over time.
The company is headquartered in Spain, and the urns are made there, but they have a U.S. distributor in Texas.
The Geos urns are made from a hardened organic compost and mineral soil bound with natural plant extracts. None of the urns include any animal products.
Posted by jwoestendiek December 15th, 2011 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: ashes, biodegradable, burial, compost, cremains, cremated, cremation, death, dog, funeral, geos, grieving, growth, industry, lake, life after death, limbo zoo, new life, nu, nutrients, ocean, pet, pet death, product, river, samsara, sand, sea, sea salt, seedling, tree, urns, water
More than 400 people gathered in Alabama last week to pay their last respects to Bo, a black and tan coonhound whose family traveled 300 miles to bury him at the Key Underwood Memorial Coon Dog Cemetery.
Bo, the 2008 Purina Outstanding Show Dog of the Year, was eulogized for his ability to hunt raccoons, his unfailing nose and his ability to speedily navigate all terrains. But it was probably as a friend that he made his biggest impact.
Bo, whose full name was Shawnee Hills Beaujolais, lived in southern Illinois. But he was buried Thursday at the world’s only cemetery dedicated to hounds who hunt raccoons.
It was Ericka who insisted he be brought to Alabama for burial, according to the Times Daily in Florence, Alabama.
As her grandfather, Michael Seets, explained it, he brought Bo to his home in Illinois in 2007 to help train him for dog shows and hunting for his owner, who lived in Georgia.
While Bo was an attentive student, he also liked to spend time with Ericka, laying in bed, eating doughnuts and watching cartoons on television.
Because of Ericka, Seets made an exception to his rule of never letting dogs into the house. And when it came time to return the dog to his owner, Ericka, 3-years old at the time, said no.
“I said we’ve got to take BoBo home,” Michael Seets said. “She said, `no, BoBo’s mine.’ I thought, `Now ain’t this something.”‘
Seets said that when he explained to the owner about how the hunting dog had become a house pet, and the connection between Bo and Ericka, the owner gave them the dog.
Two years ago, the Seets learned about the Key Underwood Memorial Coon Dog Cemetery from a friend in Pennsylvania who had a dog buried there. They watched a video of the service, and Ericka decided then that Bo would be buried there when his time came.
“Bo was a good dog. This is the place you bury a good dog,” said Michael Seets, who lives in Stonefort, Ill.
“We’ve had other good dogs, and when they died, we buried them behind the barn or beside a tree. But Bo was special because Little Red (Ericka) loved him so much.”
Posted by jwoestendiek October 24th, 2011 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: alabama, animals, black and tan, bo, burial, buried, coon dog cemetery, coonhound, death, dogs, ericka seets, eulogy, florence, friends, hunting, key underwood, memorial, michael seets, pets, raccoons, shawnee hills beaujolais
One of the reasons Ace and I are lingering in this town – Winston-Salem, North Carolina – is so that I can reconnect with my roots here in my birthplace. An opportunity to do that arose last week.
Tan, or Tan-NEE, as her nickname was pronounced in full, was Kathleen Hall, who, though not related by blood, grew up as a sister of my grandmother. As my mother’s aunt, she babysat me before I turned one – here in the very same house Ace and I recently moved into. Never married, she was a schoolteacher and administrator. She died in 1983, at the age of 92. An elementary school in town bears her name.
Putting flowers on her grave is a family tradition at Easter – one that, if I ever was aware of it, I had forgotten.
Aunt Edna Faye explained that Tan was buried in the Moravian Graveyard, in what’s known as “God’s Acre,” near the Home Moravian Church in Old Salem. She didn’t know exactly where the gravesite was: “It’s behind the church, on a hill sort of to the left, near the sidewalk. It’s on the side that’s towards Salem, not towards Krispy Kreme.”
She asked, when she called on Friday, that I get some flowers and place them at Tan’s headstone.
“There are no containers there, so it needs to be something in a pot, and not a very tall one because it would tip over. Just sort of press it in the ground and stabilize it as much as you can,” she said. Last year, Edna Faye got Tan a pink hydrangea.
When I told my mother – who is Edna Faye’s sister — of the mission, she said she had thought about asking me to do it, but didn’t want to bother me. When I finished reprimanding her for that – explaining that the main reason I’ve temporarily moved here is so she can bother me — she asked if she could come along and quietly watch from the car.
“Hell no,” I answered.
On our way to buy the flowers, she told me a little about Tan, most of which I’d forgotten. She considered Tan one of her four aunts, and perhaps the one to whom, as an adult, she was closest. When my father shipped out to Korea, Tan was there for her, and for long after that. She babysat my sister and me – I being born about nine months after my father returned. She was a much beloved teacher. Her nickname, Tan-NEE, apparently derived from a young nephew’s mispronunciation of Auntie. Her favorite color was purple.
Leaving Ace and my mother in the car, I surveyed the flowering plants outside a grocery store, opting for a delphinium because it was purple, with shades of blue. Ace approved. More important, so did my mother.
At God’s Acre (or Gottesacker, in the old German) members of the congregation were there in droves. The day before Easter is what’s known as decoration day – a time when relatives and church members tidy up the graves, and place out fresh flowers – partly because it’s tradition, partly because a huge sunrise Easter service takes place there the next morning.
People were hauling in plants, pouring bleach on gravestones to remove grey mold, and scrubbing off the grime, some using toothbrushes. All of the headstones at the Moravian Graveyard are exactly the same shape and size – Moravians being big on simplicity and uniformity. The departed are buried chronologically, in the order in which they are “called home to be with the Lord,” and there are no statues or monuments to distinguish the graves of the rich from those of the poor.
Normally, that would have made finding Tan’s grave difficult. But I’d gone on the graveyard’s website the day before, typed in her name and gotten the precise location: Section 1AA, Row 02, Grave 04. Between that and the map the website provided, finding her was easy.
She was buried alongside other women — that, too, being the Moravian way. Men, women and children are buried in separate sections, which stems from the church’s “choir system,” introduced in Saxony by Count Zinzendorf, the renewer of the Moravian Church.
The congregation was divided into groups according to age, sex, and marital status so that each individual might be cared for spiritually according to their differing needs. At worship the “choirs” also sat together – boys on one side, girls on the other.
When death comes, members are buried not with their families, but by the same choir system.
God’s Acre is still used by the Salem Congregation, comprised of twelve Moravian Churches within the city of Winston-Salem. Members of the church gather there the day before easter to ensure that all of the graves have flowers by Sunday.
Other than her grave location, there’s not a lot of information on Kathleen Hall on the Internet, her death having preceded its rise. Even with an elementary school named after her, there are few references to be found, other than a 1939 Winston-Salem high school year book for sale on eBay – one page of which is dedicated to her for her “friendly, untiring and unselfish services.”
My parents left North Carolina when I was one, so, except for a few visits over the years, I never got to closely know Kathleen Hall, who my sister, with slight variation, was named after.
My mother says that when my sister Kathryn was an infant, and wouldn’t stop crying, Tan would take her for car rides, and that made her finally shut up. (I’ll need to remember that next time I visit.)
When my mother moved back to Winston-Salem, in the late 1970s, I’d gone off to college, followed by my first job, far away in Arizona. My younger brother got to know Tan better than me, visiting her, after her retirement, at the Moravian home, where he remembers she liked watching professional wrestling on TV, and drinking banana milk shakes, which he’d always stop and pick up on the way.
I was hoping to introduce Ace to Tan, as I introduced him a few months ago to John Steinbeck, but I decided to obey the “no dogs allowed” signs. I didn’t want him squirting while everyone else was sprucing. He waited patiently in the car, watching from the window, as did my mother.
At Tan’s gravesite, someone had already left a lily, I set our contribution next to it, pushing it down into the moist earth as instructed. Contrary to Aunt Edna Faye’s advice, I picked a flower that grows tall. But I figured even if it toppled, it would keep growing, albeit sideways.
The hillside was filling up with people, armed with scrub brushes, bleach and Comet, and flowers in buckets and wagons and wheelbarrows, paying respect not just with their presence, but with their sweat.
Slowly, the cemetery took on more and more color, as if blooming — with lilies and azaleas and hydrangea and tulips and geraniums and daisies and daffodils.
And, amid the crowd, at least one purple delphinium.
Posted by jwoestendiek April 24th, 2011 under Muttsblog.
Tags: aunt, burial, church, cleaning, custom, decoration day, delphinium, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, easter, family, flowers, gods acre, gottesacker, grave, gravestones, graveyard, hall-woodward elementary, home, kathleen hall, kin, memories, moravian, moravian graveyard, old salem, pets, purple, relatives, salem, schoolteacher, tan, teacher, tombstones, tradition, travels with ace, winston-salem
Ace stepped lightly between the tombstones, paused to sniff a clump of artificial flowers, then moved on – past Flop, Train, Daisy, Black Ranger and Bear. He paused at the final resting places of Patches and Preacher and Bean Blossom Bomma, then sauntered by Smoky, Squeek and Easy Going Sam, whose rusting collar is looped over the cross marking his grave.
We were alone at the Coon Dog Cemetery in Cherokee, Alabama – except for the 215 dogs buried beneath us — on a hot and drizzly Friday, silent except for the chirps of birds and the whining hum of mosquitos sizing up my ears.
I’d long wanted to visit the Coon Dog Cemetery. We’ve featured it on this website before. But those were long distance, second hand dispatches. Being there, especially when no one else is, is another story.
Between the bursts of color provided by the fake flowers on almost every grave; the eclectic mix of memorials, ranging from engraved stone, to etched metal to carved wooden crosses, and the homey epitaphs and monikers, the cemetery is at once haunting and inspiring – a Southern icon, and a reminder of the powerful, difficult to relinquish, connection between dog and owner.
Especially when that dog and owner were hunting buddies.
Located in a grassy meadow in the wilderness of Freedom Hills, the cemetery permits only coon dogs – 215 of which are buried there, according to Susann Hamlin, executive director of the Colbert County Tourism & Convention Bureau, which now maintains the property.
The cemetery got its start when Key Underwood chose the spot – not far from where coon hunters gathered to share stories – to bury his faithful coon dog Troop. On a dreary Labor Day in 1937, Troop was wrapped in a cotton sack and buried three feet down. Underwood marked the grave with a rock from an old chimney. He used a hammer and screwdriver to chisel Troop’s name and date.
After that, other hunters started doing the same – first those from Alabama and Mississippi, later from all around the country.
We found it after driving 15 miles down a winding road through the gently rolling hills of northwest Alabama, and for an hour had it all to ourselves. Then another car pulled up, driven by Hamlin, who was escorting a photographer working on a project about Alabama for the National Archives.
Hamlin said about three dogs a year are buried at the cemetery nowadays – a reflection of the declining popularity of the sport, in which the dogs track raccoons and chase them up trees before the hunters … well, you know the rest.
How much pride those hunters took in their dogs still lingers though, in tall tales, folklore and, most of all, at the cemetery, where heartfelt tributes are hammered, carved and burned into grave markers:
“He wasn’t the best, but he was the best I ever had.”
“He was good as the best and better than the rest.”
“He was a joy to hunt with.”
Every year on Labor Day, a festival is held at the cemetery, hosted by the Tennessee Valley Coon Hunters Association. The cemetery is spruced up and decorated, and the event features bluegrass music, food and a liar’s contest.
Better yet, check it out in person. Admission is free, but the mosquitos do take up donations. I added about a dozen more bites to my ongoing collection – a small price to pay for such a big, colorful and moving sampling of southern culture.
To read all of Dog’s Country, click here.
Posted by jwoestendiek June 7th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace, ace does america, alabama, animals, burial, cemetery, cherokee, coon dog cemetery, coon dogs, coonhounds, coons, death, dog, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, epitaphs, florence, ground, hunting, journey, key underwood, loss, memorials, pets, raccoons, roadtrip, tombstones, travel, trip, tuscumbia
Minty of Downalong. Black Bean. Esquire Mulatto. Georgia Judy. Tipsy. Petey’s Repeat. You can find them all — or their graves, at least — at Di-Lane Plantation in Waynesboro, Georgia.
Hidden under moss-draped oaks on the former quail hunting preserve of a New York millionaire is a cemetery for bird dogs — much like the Alabama coonhound cemetery we featured a few weeks ago,.
Rob Pavey, outdoors editor of the Augusta Chronicle, recently dropped by the bird dog cemetery at Di-Lane Plantation, which he originally wrote about in 1998.
More than 70 bird dogs are laid to rest at the cemetery, which is in the center of 8,100 acres that once belonged to Henry Berol, heir to Eagle Pencil Co. Berol died in 1976 and the plantation was purchased in 1992 by the Army Corps of Engineers as a public wildlife area.
“It’s gotten to be a real point of interest since the state took it over,’’ said wildlife biologist Haven Barnhill of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, which manages the property.
“Today, velvety moss creeps between the bricks along the front wall and the wrought iron cemetery gates are rarely opened,” Pavey wrote. “But the marble monuments are a testament to a glorious bird-hunting past.”
There’s Sierra June, buried in 1968, whose epitaph reads, “needless departure.” Lucky Lady’s tombstone points out that she was unlucky. Wrangler Sam’s refers to him as “almost great.” Tarheel Jack, according to his grave marker “met an early death due to neglect.”
Today, in addition to public hunting, hiking and recreation opportunities, Di-Lane Plantation is used for research programs designed to foster the return of Georgia wildlife, including quail, Barnhill said. Plans call for the cemetery to remain as it is, preserved for future generations.
(Photo: Augusta Chronicle)
Posted by jwoestendiek January 19th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: alabama, animals, army corps of engineers, bird dogs, burial, buried, bury, cemetery, coonhounds, di-lane plantation, dog, eagle pencil, epitaphs, georgia, graves, henry berol, monuments, pets, plnatation, tombstones, waynesboro
Reports of Casey Johnson’s funeral have been greatly exaggerated.
Both TMZ and RadarOnline reported the heiress was buried Sunday — without her dog Zoe, who is reportedly still alive.
Now, still more celebrity-centric websites are reporting that information was erroneous. No funeral has taken place.
Nicky Hilton and Bijou Phillips, Johnson’s lifelong friends, went to the home Johnson shared with Tila Tequila last week to pick up Johnson’s two dogs, Zoe and Elvis.
Johnson before her death had expressed her wishes to be buried with Zoe’s cremated remains, and Tequila insisted there were plans to put the dog asleep so that it could be buried with the Johnson & Johnson heiress.
Spokesmen for the family have denied the claim.
The whole thing — too many celebrities, too much drama, too many lies, too many abbreviations and all the shabby reporting – is giving OMD a headache.
Posted by jwoestendiek January 11th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: bijou phillips, burial, buried, bury, casey johnson, celebrities, celebrity, cremated, dogs, elvis, erroneous, error, euthanized, funeral, nicky hilton, put to sleep, radar online, tila tequila, tmz, zoe, zoey
On a dreary Labor Day in 1937, Key Underwood wrapped his faithful hunting companion of 15 years in a cotton sack, buried him in a three-foot deep grave in a meadow in northwest Alabama and used a hammer and a screwdriver to chisel his dog’s name into a rock: Troop.
Since then, 184 more hunting dogs from across the U.S. have been laid to rest in the remote wilderness of Freedom Hills — all of them coonhounds.
The Key Underwood Coon Dog Memorial Graveyard is, according to its website, the only cemetery in the U.S. that allows only coonhounds.
The burial spot was a popular hunting camp “where coon hunters from miles around gathered to plot their hunting strategies, tell tall tales, chew tobacco and compare coon hounds. Those comparisons usually began and ended with Troop … He was the best around.”
Troop, who was half redbone coonhound and half birdsong, was known throughout the region as the best, according to the website, and after his burial, other hunters started burying their favorite coon dogs at the same site.
The coonhound cemetery’s headstones are crafted of wood, rock and sometimes sheet metal, and they pay homage to dogs with names like Patches, Preacher, Smoky, Bean Blossom Bomma and Night Ranger. Often, etched along with the names, are brief tributes such as one that reads: ”He wasn’t the best, but he was the best I ever had.”
In a 1985 interview, Underwood said he once received a letter from a woman in California, asking why other breeds couldn’t be buried there. “You must not know much about coon hunters and their dogs,” he responded, “if you think we would contaminate this burial place with poodles and lap dogs.”
To qualify for burial in the cemetery, the dog’s owner must claim their pet is an authentic coon dog, a witness must testify to the same, and a member of the local coonhunters’ organization must be allowed to view the coonhound to confirm its breed.
“We have stipulations on this thing,” says the cemetery’s caretaker, William O. Bolton, secretary/treasurer of the Tennessee Valley Coon Hunters Association. “A dog can’t run no deer, possum — nothing like that. He’s got to be a straight coon dog, and he’s got to be full hound. Couldn’t be a mixed up breed dog, a house dog.”
Posted by jwoestendiek December 31st, 2009 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: alabama, animals, breeds, burial, bury, cemetery, coon dogs, coon hounds, coon hunters, coondogs, coonhound, coonhounds, death, dog, freedom hills, hunting, hunting dogs, key underwood, pets, troop, video