On the same day in June, two smart, playful, happy dogs who had lived a world apart left the adventures of their lives behind to take up residence in the quiet and tender corners of the human hearts that loved them.
Chewbacca, a six year-old Chocolate Labrador Retriever in Wyoming, had lived with Rachel and was loved by her sister too.
Jack, a 13 year-old Australian Red Cattle Dog lived in Queensland AU with Chris and a family that includes two other dogs, all of them rescued from unfortunate circumstances, perhaps the most poignant being Jack’s.
Objects such as cremation urns, keepsakes, and other kinds of memorial items cannot replace a profound loss—no matter how beautifully made by sensitive artists. What is possible, however, when carefully chosen urns or objects of remembrance are kept at home, are opportunities to engage in the experience of loss through a contemplative process.
Perhaps, for example, when Rachel and her sister strike a match to the tea lights in the Faithful Friends ornaments that Rachel selected, they’ll remember the flickers of delight in the dark pools of Chewie’s eyes that would welcome them home. Maybe seeing the glistening bits of mica in the chocolate-brown clay Abundant Earth urn that Rachel chose for his ashes is what feels “perfect”, as she wrote, because it’s both a beautiful and final means of sheltering and loving him. Rachel chose an urn larger than needed, but having that extra space also creates a place to put Chewie’s tags and collar, a favorite toy, and to express gratitude for the gift of his life when she lifts the lid by its gnarled bronze handle to add the first red leaf of autumn or a perfectly smooth stone.
For Chris, a beautiful urn for Jack is a tribute to a wonderful animal who reminds us of how much there is to learn from innocent lives that have suffered terribly yet are still capable of showing boundless and unconditional love. While Jack might have thought he was the lucky one to be rescued from unspeakable pain inflicted by unconscionable humans, Chris’s gratitude for seeing in Jack “life lessons on four legs” is the greater gift, and one that he has generously shared with us.The experience of recognizing certain works of art as a means—even a tool—to help us heal, is surely embedded in the work that many artists make. Art, and those who need it, sometimes find each other. In the very same week this summer, choices made by one caring person in Wyoming and another in Australia, each mourning the loss of their four-legged companions, made this abundantly clear.
Rachel couldn’t have known that Alison Counsell, who creates the Faithful Friends votives, had lost her own very dear hiking companion, Tilly, only a few weeks before to a fast-acting disease.
Nor could Rachel and also Chris have known that Carol Green, who made each of the mica-clay urns they purchased, is part of a family dedicated to animal welfare, particularly rescuing dogs who would otherwise not know love and human kindness.
We are so grateful to artists who imagine and produce work with good intentions, who use their materials conscientiously while creating something of beauty and purpose. When we recognize ourselves and those we love through their work, we are all richer for the experience.
Please speak up in defense of animals who rely on the kindness of humans to protect them from those who through ignorance, intention or neglect cause them harm.
May you, your family, and all creatures enjoy a full, safe and beautiful life.
P.S. If you would like to write a note of support to an animal welfare group of your choice, we would like to send you a postcard (or a few) to help you express your appreciation — even if it’s simply “Great job!”, though if you write a note and include a donation of any size to them in memory of an animal you’ve loved, we’re sure they’d be grateful.
Simply send your mailing address to us at arthonorslife(at)funeria.com (US addresses only, please) and we’ll send you the cards in an envelope. You’re also welcome to write a note in memory of a dog or other animal you’ve loved, along with your favorite animal welfare rights group (including a link to them), in the comments section below.