Costly reminders (HLD 403)

10 May 2021

In discussion with one of my friends who recently lost their dog to a tragic accident, the topic of ‘How do you remember your pet” came up.

Specifically – do you have them cremated? Do you keep the ashes? Do you spread the ashes? And then, of course, how much are you going to pay to have this reminder of them?

Confession time – I’m not a cremator. When our pets have died, I’ve worked on the theory that if they’re little enough to bury in the backyard, that’s where they go. If they were too big for this, then I made the request of the vet to deal with their remains for me. I did always, of course, promptly go out and buy a little garden ornament or statue to remind us of the deceased animal. I did not love my pets less by not wanting to have them cremated and the ashes returned to me. I was, always, very aware of the cost involved in this element, and didn’t really think it would add to or alleviate our grief at the passing of the pet.

But others do, and having their beloved pet present in whatever form, is important to them.

I’m a cheapskate griever.

When discussing with my bereaved friend the absolute myriad of options available to people who have made the choice to cremate their deceased pets, I got sidetracked telling them a story about the passing of one of my pets.

This big black cat was named Sam. He wasn’t our cat initially – we were looking after him while his owners lived overseas for a year. We already had another black and white cat named Rudi (actually his full name was Rudolph Norman Eric, but Rudi was much cheaper to put on his name tag), and they got along ok. Rudi was a very mild mannered fellow who got along with everyone, even Sam.

It eventuated that when his owners returned to Australia they were unable to have him back, so Sam became ours (and was promptly renamed Samuel Bimbam Bimbam Oolay Biscuitbarrel in honour of the occasion – but called Sam for short). We moved house a few times, and he and Rudi took these moves in their strides.

Now Sam was a bit of an outgoing lad – he was desexed, but that didn’t stop him prowling around the neighbourhood as if everyone in it was one of his subjects. He particularly enjoyed getting into a bit of a scruff with other cats on his prowls. By the time we got to our third house we lived in with him, his regular dust-ups in the neighbourhood were starting to get very problematic.

He would get into a fight, he would come home with a battle wound, which would develop an abscess, which would cost us a good amount of money to have surgically drained. When eventually his wound was healed, and he was finally allowed to venture outdoors again, within days it seemed like he would be straight into another fight, and the cycle started all over again.

Each time, we gritted our teeth, paid the vet who was probably eyeing off a new BMW just on our proceeds alone, and put up with it. It was, however, causing us more than a few financial issues.

Eventually, long after the vet had his new car and his home renovations sorted, and Sam had been in a doozy of a fight with multiple big wounds, the vet said to me that I really only had two options, when and if Sam ever recovered from this latest event. Either I had to keep the cat indoors 24/7 (which would be a very bit struggle for a very determined cat)….. or I could move house.

I chose a third option, and Sam’s fighting days finished.

Because I’m not totally a cold hearted b***ch, and Sam wasn’t overly huge, I dug a lovely grave for him outside my laundry door, in my beautiful fern garden. It was a lovely final resting place.


A little over a year later, I had a problem with my hot water system. My father-in-law was fortunately a plumber, and came to investigate what the issue was. He discovered a leaking copper pipe in my fern garden. A copper pipe that was lying deep in the ground – beneath the decomposing cat. The acid from which, corroded the copper pipe.

Which was very expensive to fix.

Sam had the last laugh after all.

However you chose to immortalise your lost four legged friends – whether as a pretty garden ornament, as cremains in an artistic urn, scattered at the park, buried beneath the gum tree, or happily ensconced above copper pipes in your fern garden….. it’s gonna cost you somehow.

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