A Good Good-Bye…

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Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

Life pulses in the countryside in the hamlet of Ancaster, Ontario. Away from the town, the meticulously maintained Ancaster Pet Cemetery (founded by Hamilton veterinarian Dudley Collins) is a peaceful, park-like setting that is filled with tiny plots, a mismatched array of graves with markers that give the visitor a clue to what decade the pets were buried here.  A stroll through a pet cemetery offers an interesting glimpse into the lives of pets and their people and at the timelessness of the human-animal bond.  The inscriptions on the headstones and plaques bear mute witness to the grief each person felt at the loss of their pet. The treed cemetery is also a veritable sanctuary for chipmunks and birds.  A visit to this three-acre park, which has been in operation nearly 50 years, will likely find you with little (human) company, so it’s also a great place to spend time with a camera.

We loved this place so much that we chose to bury our dog Coco here in June 2017.  Green burials are becoming much more popular, which is a return to old ways, if you will.  In the Toronto area, there are very few options beyond cremation for pets.  The Ancaster Pet Cemetery (zoned as a cemetery rather than farmland) allows you to bury your pet in a shroud, box, casket, or simply laid in the ground.   We preferred burial over cremation since the idea of cremation seemed violent to us and also, I liked the idea of our dog having a connection back to the earth—being connected to a place and being returned to the earth from whence she came, gradually, over time.

Without question, people do this out of love and loyalty to their beloved pets (the cemetery contains the remains of not only dogs and cats,  but horses, service animals, and even a tiger). Coco’s resting place will be a great source of comfort to me in the coming years, and the cemetery is an interesting place to visit.  Being here drives us to reflect not only on the mortality of the pets buried here and their owners who may have passed on years ago, but on our own mortality. Pet cemeteries are not creepy abandoned places but moving, provocative places, with powerful memories, full of love.  I like to think of this place as a public park that just happens to have a lot of permanent residents.

View the full photographic album of the

Ancaster Pet Cemetery on FLICKR.

Thou who passest on the path, if haply thou dost mark this monument,
Laugh not, I pray thee,
Though it is a dog’s grave; tears fell for me,
And the dust was heaped above me by a master’s hands,
Who likewise engraved these words upon my tomb. ~ Unknown

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About heatherclemenceau

Hopefully as I've grown older I've also grown wiser, but one thing I've definitely become cognizant of is the difference between making a living and making a life. Frequently outraged by some of life's cruelties, and respect diversity. But.....I don't suffer fools gladly, and occasionally, this does get me into some trouble! I have the distinction of being the world's worst golfer - no wait, I do believe that there is a gypsy in Moldavia who is a worse golfer than I. Nor am I much of a dancer - you won't see a booty-shakin' flygirl routine from me! I'm also not the kind of cook who can whip up a five-course meal on a radiator either! And I've never figured out how to get an orchid to bloom a second time. I love to discuss literature, science, philosophy, and sci-fi , or even why Seinfeld is funny on so many levels. Words move me. I'm very soft-hearted about most things, especially animals, but I have a stoicism about me that is sometimes interpreted incorrectly. I do have a definite edge and an often "retro-adolescent" sense of humour at times. I'm a big advocate of distributed computing projects to advance science. Check out http://boinc.berkeley.edu/ if you want to find out more. I'm an eclectic (but not crazy) vegetarian, and as such, it's a personal practice of mine to seduce innocent meat-eaters into cruising the (salad) bars at every opportunity. You would be powerless to resist. I was recently surprised to find that a computer algorithm concluded that I write like Dan Brown, which is funny because I didn't think Dan Brown could actually write. Check out your own style - http://iwl.me/ Oh, and I love impractical shoes and funky hats.

5 responses »

  1. Heather… I loved this post. We have a pet cemetary and crematorium in our area. I have had all my horses either cremated or buried privately. I would love to see more cemeteries like this one. Food for thought.

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  2. Pingback: A Good Good-Bye… | francaisdefrancesblog

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