Monday, March 22, 2004

It is possible to love your pet too much

Last night, Misty finally decided that it's time to put her dog Bows to sleep.

Bows is very old and has been blind and deaf ever since I've known her. Most of the day for her is spent curled up on a pillow on the floor. When she is awake, she wanders around the house like a bumper car, banging into everything, reversing, and heading off in a different direction to bang into something else. She has to be physically carried outside and up and down the stairs. When she's ready to go back to sleep, she spends an hour licking her pillow before she'll lie down because she prefers to sleep in a wet puddle.

She's alive, but she's not really living. It's hard to give her affection when she barely knows we're here.

With Bows' impending demise on my mind, I saw this in yesterday's paper...
Companions for life

Whenever Florence Sands walks by her beloved golden retriever Penny, she pets her and talks to her. "Even I talk to it sometimes," says her husband, Jerry Sands, 77.

Catherine Delaney curls up with Kelsey, her golden retriever. Sometimes she'll even take her out on errands. "Right now, she's on a cedar chest," Delaney says. "When I see her big eyes, I just say 'Kelsey, Mommy loves you.'"

Shih tzu Callie keeps her regular perch in Joelle Ienner's bedroom in Alabaster. "I sleep with her every night," Ienner says.

Penny, Kelsey and Callie have been dead for months.

But that hasn't stopped their owners from lavishing affection on their pets, or at least on their stuffed likenesses. The cremains of Penny, Kelsey and Callie are ensconced in those stuffed animals courtesy of Comfort Pets, which bills its zipper-pocketed products as "urn alternatives." Its fuzzy animals look like corgis, springer spaniels, long-hair white cats, amber cats and other pals that once barked or purred or snuggled with their masters...

You read that right. You can take your dead dog's remains, stuff them into a teddy bear, and cuddle it forever.

What's even crazier is that these things cost $80 and up. That price doesn't include cremation or even stuffing the animal and sewing it up. You've got to do that part yourself. But for that price, you'd be better off going to Build-a-Bear. They've got dogs starting at $22. I can just imagine the conversation there: "Uh... Do you mind if instead of the usual cotton and styrafoam, if I put my dead dog's ashes in there instead?"

I want to be shocked by this story, but I'm not. With Misty working at an animal clinic, I've heard all sorts of tales about wackos and their pets. I just hope that Misty won't join the list and decide to get Bows sewn inside a stuffed shih tzu.

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