“Today, there are nearly 600 functioning pet cemeteries in the United States,” Amy Defibaugh, a Temple University graduate student, said recently at the American Academy of Religion conference in San Diego. She was delivering a paper titled “Toward the Weeping Willow: An Examination of the Dying and Death of Companion Animals.”
Beginning in the 19th century as a largely urban phenomenon, “pet cemeteries have become and continue to be a viable and significant option for the practical disposal of the bodies of our companion animals,” Ms. Defibaugh said, “as well as creating and preserving a sense of sacredness in their death.”
She cited the research of an anthropologist, Stanley Brandes of the University of California, Berkeley, who in a 2009 article, “The Meaning of American Pet Cemetery Gravestones,” noted the “definite and growing tendency for owners to link these creatures to specific religious communities.”
That’s right: Maybe your dog isn’t just soulful, but is also, in fact, a member of a faith community. Maybe your dog is a Christian, perhaps of one denomination or another. Presbyterian pooch. Methodist mutt. Or maybe your dog is Mormon. Or Mennonite? Perhaps even Jewish.