Timonium, Maryland (WMAR) – For many people, pets are part of the family, and when they pass, the grief is intense.
Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens have always been a pet cemetery and sanctuary where families honor them, but now they’ve opened the Pet Loss Center to make the trip as easy as possible. The new resource is being allocated this weekend.
“We like to think of pets as a family, and if they are part of the family we need a great place where they can say goodbye and grieve,” said Amy Shemp, general manager of Dolany Valley Memorial Parks.
In 1967, Dolani added his first pet memorial park. When those 3,000 lots sold out, a new petting zoo was set up in 2010 called the Pet Sanctuary and adjacent to Faithful Friends Park where humans could be buried near their pets.
Pet Loss Center is the latest addition. It opened earlier this year as a full-service pet care facility and funeral home, with a viewing room for people to come and say their final goodbyes.
“It is very emotional. Visiting pets after they are gone is intense and people come and bond and it becomes incredible,” said Shemp. “We also have a place for people to bring their other dogs and cats to say goodbye because brothers and sisters also need to grieve.”
Designed to make you feel like you are in a comfortable home, the center features calm, calm colors and comfortable furniture. The goal was to provide a calm and serene environment suitable for the final rites and farewells. They offer grieving support, burial arrangements, funeral services, rituals, special cremations, and memorial memorabilia for all beloved pets, from dogs and cats to lizards and rodents.
It’s a resource that retired Department of Defense canine officer Fred O’Neill wished he had available when he was grieving the loss of his three working dogs over the past decade.
“Having such a facility would have allowed officers or people to come and pay their respects if they wanted to. That would have made a huge difference,” O’Neill said.
His first working dog was Rinko.
“He was the first to work with him. The first to train with him…my heart is with all my dogs but Rinko was special,” O’Neill said.
They worked together for years before Rinko retired and became the family dog. When he was 16 years old, his health began to deteriorate and O’Neill was forced to make the painful decision.
“The vet was saying, ‘I know what you’re waiting for. You are waiting for the dog to die. He said Renko would not pass. He will stay with you until you make the decision. When he started losing control of his bowels, I knew it. O’Neill said he was looking at you like, “I’m so sorry.”
He recommended that he communicate with Wadi Dolani to bury him. They provide free burials for active police, retirees, and fire service K-9s.
“You treat them as if they were family members, and when their time comes, you grieve for them just as you grieve for anyone,” O’Neill said.
He had two other working dogs, Sene and Clifford.
“[Senni] “He was a very loving, very caring dog,” O’Neill said.
He first worked with Sene before taking her as a pet after retirement. She was very close to O’Neill’s son, who was out of college when she got sick.
“We called him and told him and he said ‘I’m on my way home,'” O’Neill said. “When my son got home, he sat on the floor with Sean and Sean died in his arms.”
Years later, working dog Clifford retired early and O’Neill took him home.
“He had a lot of guts; a very independent type of dog,” O’Neill said.
Only a year later, he fell seriously ill and needed an operation that would reduce his quality of life, so they made the decision to frustrate him.
The three are resting together at the pet sanctuary, which is now located next to the new Pet Loss Center. It is dedicated on Saturday at 10 am. The Pet Blessing Ceremony honors and commemorates all pets and K-9 service past and present. The ceremony will conclude with the shooting of bubbles, the planting of a commemorative tree and the unveiling of a commemorative plaque.
Among the more than 4,000 pets buried in the Dolani Valley, there are dogs and cats, a pony, two pigs, and a chinchilla, as well as a number of birds, guinea pigs and rabbits. Other noteworthy pets include a thoroughbred racehorse, Elray Miss, who ran at Laurel Park Racetrack, the Cairn terrier who was named Best Terrier at the 1988 Westminster Dog Show, and Boomer, a Labrador retriever for search and recovery called in for help days after an attack September 11 at the Pentagon.
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