My family of origin revered animals. When our pets died, we had funerals for them. In our family, pets belonged in the garden when they died. My father always gave such moving funerals for our pets. They were always tearjerkers. Our animals were part of the family, as they are with so many people. Sometimes we would cremate our pets. Other times we would have a green burial, but always they were laid to rest in the garden.
In 2009, our dog, Baraq, died. To this day we are not sure what happened to him, but we woke up one morning and he could not stand up. We took him to the vet who did a test to see if he had gotten into some poison, but it wasn’t poison. What we knew was he had to be put down. The family gathered around him and said our good byes. What a sweet creature he was. The Vet Hospital told us according to city by-laws if we wanted to bury his body he would need to be cremated. The price of cremation was $1500.00, something we did not have at the time. After a little back-and-forth with the woman, I told her that I was taking his body and if anyone asked me I would make sure they knew that she had informed me about the law. I took his body in his blanket back home. We dug him a grave under a flowering bush so that it would not be disturbed. We placed his favourite toy in the grave with him. My husband led the funeral and we committed him back to the earth.
Many of us share our lives with animals in one fashion or another. In our relationship with our companion animals we learn how to love and not expect anything back. When they throw off this mortal coil, they leave a space in our hearts that only they can fill. What I learned about Baraq’s burial was that I was in charge. I don’t advocate breaking the law, but if someone tells you it’s a law you make him or her show you the law. More times than not, the advice given might be unintentionally wrong. This happens sometimes in funeral planning for us humans. Always know what the law says and then don’t worry. No one has ever come to me about his body under the bush. By now he has returned to the earth and I hope nurtured our garden along the way