Mourning doves perched on a sign in a pet cemetery, Andrade, California.The loss of a beloved pet leaves an indelible imprint on our hearts and an empty space in our homes. Truly, our pets become family members, sharing some of our more joyous occasions, as well as providing comfort during life’s rough patches.  Letting go can seem an impossible feat, no matter what the circumstances that led to the understandable grace of parting ways.

That is why National Pet Memorial Day, Sunday, September 14th, is an important and meaningful holiday to honor and celebrate the lives of our departed companions. Started over 40 years ago, the holiday offers grieving pet owners the chance to memorialize their pets through tributes, services, and events that highlight the many ways our pets bring happiness to our lives.

While many people choose to observe the day at one of San Antonio’s pet cemeteries, there are several ways you can celebrate your pet’s life.

  1. If you have a cemetery plot or urn space, spend the afternoon at the site over a picnic lunch or cup of tea, remembering those moments with your pet that make you smile.
  2. Don’t know what to do with keepsakes? Create a framed shadowbox memorial (a great project for kids, too) with pictures of your pet and other memorabilia from his or her life with you.
  3. Many people opt to create a social media page or simple web page on a pet memorial website to honor the memory of their departed pets. You could even include links to favorite charities where people can make in memoriam donations.
  4. Hold a memorial service at a favorite park or in your backyard. Invite friends and family and encourage them to bring pictures of the pets they are also honoring. Create a “memory” display of the photos on a fold out table, share a potluck dinner, light candles, or simply spend time reminiscing.
  5. Make a donation to an animal rescue, shelter, or other nonprofit in your pet’s name. Many nonprofits and shelters have tribute walls or displays where your pet’s name can be memorialized through your generous spirit.
  6. Create a memorial in your garden or under a favorite tree with an engraved stone, plaque, or bench dedicated to your special friend.
  7. Have time to devote to a dog, cat, or other pet in need? There are numerous rescue groups in desperate need of foster homes. Consider being a hero to a local fur friend in your pet’s honor.
  8. Are you creative? Many pet owners find the act of creating a special scrapbook of photos and symbols to be cathartic and a long-lasting way to remember their pets.
  9. Love to write? Grab a pen and craft a special story or poem that reflects the incredible journeys and experiences you had with your best friend.
  10. If your pet had a favorite place, such as a beautiful lake, park, or trail, consider spending Pet Memorial Day at the site, bringing your best recollections of those cherished occasions.

No matter what method you choose to celebrate the life of your pet, these simple acts of remembrance can be deeply healing. While loss is painful, our pets do live on through those joy-filled, heartfelt, and lasting moments we spent with them. Your team at Leon Valley Veterinary Hospital wishes you a meaningful and comforting Pet Memorial Day.