That's my precious Dolly and that's one of the final photos I ever took of her. Earlier that evening, Dolly suffered a horrendous seizure caused by a rapidly growing brain tumor. I didn't know if she was going to survive that seizure, but she did. So, I stayed up with her and held her through the night, because I knew what had to happen the next morning.

Kevin Benefield
Kevin Benefield

Her tumor was overtaking her brain and there was no chance I was going to let her endure the anguish of another seizure. I loved her too much for that. I loved her enough to put her first and, consequently, I made the difficult, but necessary decision to let her go. Kevin and I drove to meet our veterinarian. She agreed that it was time to say our goodbyes. I'm pretty sure Dolly knew what was happening and I am certain she was crying. We were too. I placed my hand on Dolly and kept it there- holding her- until she took her final breath.

From Dr. Richey's, we drove directly to town to have Dolly cremated. Yes. I am that person. I'm that pet owner. My dogs are my life and they're still with me even though they're not. They're in my heart and in urns in our house.

Kevin and I have three pets that are now preserved forever in urns. Dolly's the most recent.  Before her was our cat, Oprah. Before Oprah, there was our beloved Schnauzer, Wilma.

Apparently, Kevin and I are not alone in our decision to cremate our pets.

It's World Pet Memorial Day and, according to the Pet Loss Professional Alliance, there are nearly two million pet funerals a year here in the United States. 99% of them end in a pet cremation. Those owners, like the two of us, chose to memorialize those pets just like we would our humans.

Forbes recently released its 2023 Pet Ownership Statistics. An estimated 65 million households here in the U.S. have at least one dog. Kevin and I are certainly going above and beyond that statistical call of duty. He and I currently have three in the house- Ellie, Yogi and Simon. When they're gone, we'll do with them exactly what we did with the others. They'll become part of our pet memorial.

That's a significant trend. Pulvis, a pet memorial manufacturer, says that 15% of the funeral homes in this country also offer pet death care services. More and more pet owners are choosing to cremate their pets instead of bury them. And, look. I'll be honest. All of my pets that preceded Wilma, Oprah and Dolly were buried. Mavis (another Schnauzer), for instance, is buried in my mother's backyard. I routinely wish, however, that I had her with me like I do the others.

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According to, there are many ways to celebrate World Pet Memorial Day.  The popular website lists six different ideas to celebrate your pets that have crossed over the proverbial rainbow bridge.

  • Create a memorial stone for your pet and place it in your garden or walkway.
  • Plant a tree or flower in memory of your pet.
  • Donate to your local humane society or animal rescue group in honor of your pet.
  • Gather photos of your pet and make a photo album.
  • Draw or paint a picture of your pet or have a picture painted by a local artist.
  • Get a tattoo in memory of your pet.

On this World Pet Memorial Day, how are you celebrating and remembering your beloved pets that have passed? And which of the following applies to you and your family?


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