Most of those who venture onto this website know the lingering pain of losing a pet, how hard it is to let go of their memory — and how, often, we never do.
Some even know that the author of this website wrote a rather bizarre book about it, looking at the ways we try to hold onto a piece, or more, of our departed pets after they’re gone — in particular the newest and perhaps most outlandish of those, dog cloning.
Instead, most recent portrayals — of services ranging from cloning to freeze-drying – have been formulaic and superficial reality TV-type programs that fail to dig at all, or at least not as deep as the grief they’re focusing on.
So I’m eagerly awaiting, and have high hopes for, a new documentary called “Furever,” scheduled to premier next month as part of the Cleveland International Film Festival.
Director Amy Finkel traveled the country to look at the assorted — some might say sordid – routes we take to memorialize our dogs, or recapture a semblance of the life that once ran through them.
Her stops included a taxidermist in rural Pennsylvania, a religious group in Utah that mummifies pets, and various other parts of the country where entrepreneurs offer everything from jewelry to tattoos, made from the ashes of our dead pets.
She even popped in on Ace and me (though I’m told we don’t appear until the end of the film).
Endings are what the documentary is about, and our refusal, sometimes, to accept them — at least not without a freeze dried statue of our pet, a genetic twin created in a South Korean laboratory, or a trinket or shrine to remember them by.
Sixty-two percent of Americans own pets, spending nearly 53 billion dollars on them annually — most of that, fortunately, while their dog is still alive, but a lot of it, sometimes, after they’re gone.
The avenues they take, while they seem sane and fitting to the pet owners, sometimes strike others as bizarre.
Finkel’s examination, judging from time I spent with her, promises to be a non-judgmental one, and one that I expect , unlike other recent looks at pet preservation, doesn’t feel the need to inject additional melodrama. Often, there’s enough there already — so much that we don’t look beyond the outrageousness to see what we might learn.
“FUREVER is a documentary about the people looking to hang onto the memories of their four-legged loved ones, and the booming trade that is providing services that are an equal amount of creativity, empathy, and opportunity,” Finkel writes on the film’s website.
“FUREVER isn’t just about an industry that provides methods of pet preservation; it is also a study of how the relationship between owner and pet has grown throughout the centuries into a full-fledged family unit. Whether you’re a pet parent yourself, or friends with some, FUREVER gives you an intimate look into the gratitude and grief that goes with loving your pet.”
Amy Finkel earned her B.A. in Theater from Connecticut College and her M.F.A. in Design and Technology from Parsons School of Design. She lives in Brooklyn and works as a designer, photographer, documentary filmmaker, and writer.
Finkel’s project began almost five years ago, when she read a newspaper article about Mac’s Taxidermy and Freeze-Dry in Loudon, Pa., whose services included freeze-drying and preserving deceased pets — sometimes in part, sometimes in whole. One potential client wanted the ears of a Dalmatian to be preserved, and another brought an amputated dog leg.
From there she moved on to visiting the Summum, a religious group in Utah that mummifies pets, and people.
The film also looks at cloning — now available, for $100,000, in South Korea, at technology being used to turn animals’ ashes into diamonds, and at pet owners who get tattoos with ink that’s mixed with their animals cremated remains. Her brother has gotten several of those, made from the ashes of his pit bull, according to a New York Times article about Finkel’s movie.
“This is about the human-pet bond, and it’s also about mortality,” Finkel said. “We shy away from discourse on death. It’s uncomfortable and stigmatized, but maybe through talking about pets, we can open up the dialogue.”
The documentary will have its premier at Cleveland International Film Festival, with screenings on Thursday, April 11, at 7:20 p.m.; Saturday, April 13, at 3:40 p.m. and Sunday, April 14, at 11:45 a.m.
(Photos by, and courtesy of, Amy Finkel)
Posted by jwoestendiek March 12th, 2013 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: amy finkel, animals, ashes, cleveland international film festival, cloning, cremation, dead, director, documentary, dog, dog inc., dogs, film, freeze dried, furever, ink, jewelry, mac's taxidermy, memorials, movie, mummification, mummified, pet preservation, pets, premier, shrines, stuffed, summum, tattoos, taxidermy
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
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