It’s World Animal Remembrance Month in September. As the name says, it is a special time to remember all the animals who have touched our lives but are no longer with us. Cats, dogs, iguanas, chimps, and all manner of ‘beasties’ have rocked the memorial charts for centuries. Remembering pets is so popular that it spawned an entire industry — a global one — that now includes special pet burial sites, greeting cards for various animal-related sentiments, and even support groups. When pets go over the Rainbow Bridge, it can cause really strong grief, and we recognize that during this month.
History of World Animal Remembrance Month
When did we start memorializing our pets? According to historians, this answer is the key that shows the evolving nature of animal-human relationships. And evolve it has. Imagine, back in the 19th century, people would simply dispose of dead pets and animals in local bodies of water or opt for a more practical solution and sell the bodies for skin and meat. To go from that to honor the animals we live with and love shows the change in societal structure as well. Humans eventually even decided to bury their pets, a change that began during the Victorian era in England, according to research. Animals of all kinds began to be seen as ‘family’ instead of simply ‘mouse catchers’ and ‘watchdogs’. Pet burials started trending in England and its colonies, although mentioning religion and the afterlife regarding animals was a big no-no.
Of course, these events were only for those who could afford them. Still, the role of animals as humans saw them was irrevocably changed after this period — in many parts of the world. This awareness spread to every corner, and while human-animal relations were controlled by culture and traditions, animals are widely recognized as emotional foundations across multiple societies.
The 20th century transformed the animal-human bond even more. Pet shampoos were a reality, and cats had litter boxes. Studies on pet health and diets were common, as was the growing realization that animals are critical to our planet’s health. Animals became revered figures and symbols. This isn’t all. Recent history tells us humans don’t fare very well after losing their animal counterparts and succumb to the worst ravages of grief. This situation is so prevalent that numerous studies have been conducted on the issues animal owners face after losing a pet.
World Animal Remembrance Month timeline
Dogs are found buried alongside humans in the Neolithic Age.
There's a new focus on the scientific study of animals — animals go from being at the margins of history to standing proud at the center of it all.
The Stanley Hotel — the inspiration behind Stephen King's “The Shining” — relocates its pet cemetery (even digging up the graves), which houses all the former staff’s pet graves.
Pope Francis reassures a little boy mourning his dog that pets can make it into Paradise too.
World Animal Remembrance Month FAQs
What is the theme of World Animal Day 2020?
2020’s theme was ‘Man and Dog.’
Which day is celebrated on September 4?
There are plenty of special days celebrated on September 4, including National Wildlife Day, National Pet Rock Day, National Macadamia Nut Day, and more.
When is World Animal Day celebrated?
Each year on October 4, the world celebrates the feast of Francis of Assisi — patron saint of animals — together with World Animal Day.
How to Observe World Animal Remembrance Month
Remember the animals you've lost
Take a walk down memory lane. Revisit the good memories you've made with all the animals that have come (and gone) in your life.
Make new memories with animals
We'd recommend doing so with those animals who have no home or human friends — like those in shelters, for instance. Volunteer your time and efforts towards caring for these animals and creating a few happy remembrances as you do.
Be the best pet parent ever
Want to remember the good times fondly? Start by becoming an even better pet parent — drive up pet safety around the house, show your animals some extra T.L.C. this month, and adopt more animal-friendly practices.
5 Out-There Ways To Memorialize Pets
Ashes into vinyl records
A company immortalizes pets by pressing their ashes onto vinyl records — the music can be selected by the owners or can be tracks written especially for each pet and their human.
Fluffy pet owners can even turn their fur baby's hair — rolled into balls — into costume jewelry.
For those who have loads of their animal's fur lying around the house, you can turn it into yarn and get it knitted into a sweater.
Painting with ashes
Some artists offer to paint a portrait of recently deceased pets — using their ashes.
If you decide you can't live without your animal, have enough of their D.N.A., and have enough money lying around, you can opt for cloning your pets.
Why World Animal Remembrance Month is Important
It's a healing process
The death of a pet can be heartbreaking. Remembering them in various beautiful ways helps us cope with and eventually process our grief.
Carry a piece of them always
Sometimes literally, in the case of some pet owners. This helps humans feel the presence of their deceased pets, sort of like a spirit animal.
Honor our precious pets' memories
Remembering the fun and love we shared with our pets goes a long way toward helping us grieve. The mourning process can teach us how to deal with other losses in our lives too.
World Animal Remembrance Month dates