The Art and Soul of Pet Memorials

Photo of Labrador sitting in the trunk of a car.
Sure this looks like a dog sitting next to a box of junk, but it’s really a picture of a Labrador in love.

This is Jeze. She was the best buddy of a friend of ours, Tim. In this picture, Jeze has found the trunk of Tim’s car open, so she is “hiding” inside on the off chance he goes somewhere. That hang-dog look is because she knows she has been spotted and is concerned she will have to get out. She used to sit in Tim’s trunk all day if the door was open, even though Tim was nowhere near his vehicle. Jeze felt it was better to sit there than risk missing out on a trip with Tim. She did this whenever she found Tim’s trunk open. In the evening, Tim would have to make her get out and come eat her supper.

Picture of Labrador waiting next to a truck and a boat.
“What? You always said you wanted a blonde who loves to fish!”

It was even worse when Jeze saw Tim pack to go hunting or fishing. This is Jeze in her “nagging” position. “Can we go yet? Can we, can we, can we, can we?”

That’s how it was for eight years with those two. Where one was, the furry one followed. Tim was Jeze’s whole world and Jeze was Tim’s favorite dog, which is saying something because Tim has had dogs, literally, all his life.

Sadly, Jeze was injured and died unexpectedly last summer. Needless to say, she left a big empty space in Tim’s life. For the first time since he was a toddler, he didn’t have a dog and he wasn’t sure a new puppy would fix the loss.

What can we do when we lose a beloved pet?

The death of a furry friend can be intensely painful. When the relationship has been extremely close, it can be as hard as losing a person. But, when a human being dies, there are funerals and memorials to help us express our grief. We don’t always have those same options when a cherished animal dies. Or, we may need more than a simple backyard burial to work through our feelings.

One thing mental health and grief professionals recommend is memorializing your pet. Assembling a memorial display in honor of a dear furry friend validates your feelings of grief and can be very healing.

Here are 3 Ways to Memorialize Your Favorite Pet

Have a pet portrait made.

Drawing of yellow Labrador
Jeze by Eric Jensen

A couple of months ago we framed this portrait of Jeze, drawn by local artist Eric Jensen. It hangs in Tim’s dining room now, not far from where he used to get his pre-dinner cuddles from Jeze.

If you love great art anyway, or simply miss looking into your pet’s eyes, this is an elegant option. Gather several clear photos of your pet and sit down with an artist who is skilled at drawing or painting animals. It is helpful if you can find pictures that show your pet from different angles and in different positions.

When the artist is finished working his or her magic, bring the finished project in and we will frame it using materials that complement the artwork.

Make a cast of your dog’s paw print.

Plaster of paris cast of dog's paw print in gold frame.Paw prints or nose prints can be made easily at home out of plaster of paris or terra cotta clay. There are instructions on the web or you can get kits at art stores with everything you need.

Paw or nose print crafts can be excellent projects for families who have children, especially in the days when death is near but the pet can still stand. Creating the memorial together can be both a teaching and a healing moment and will reaffirm the importance of your pet’s loss to the family as a whole.

Proper framing will help protect your cast from the elements and create a long-lasting display. If you want to be able to touch the paw print, consider having the cast bronzed and we will set it in a recessed frame without glass.

Take a paw print.

ink-paw-printInk paw prints are another option. Be sure to use art-grade ink and acid-free paper. Roll the ink on your pets paw and press it down on the paper. You may have to do a few impressions to get a clear print. After the ink is thoroughly dried, bring it in to the shop and we will frame it to create an one of a kind memorial.

If you are creating a paw cast or ink print, a nice option is to have us frame it side-by-side with your favorite photo of your pet.

Tell Us About Your Favorite Pet

Has your heart been stolen by a furry buddy? Please share your pictures and stories in the comments. If your pet has passed on, tell us how you memorialized your dear friend and include a photo if you can. How did creating a memorial help you deal with the loss?

Village Frame & Gallery, 7808 SW Capitol Hwy, Portland, OR 97219 ● (503) 245-8001
Open Tuesday - Friday, 10am - 5pm, and Saturday 10am - 4pm, or by appointment.