About two dozen people gathered in Lively June 20 to reflect upon the life of Buddy the dog, as well the lives of other pets who have passed away.
A wooden wishing well memorial bearing Buddy's image has been built in a newly created garden adjoining Memory Gardens Pet Crematorium and in behind Walden Animal Hospital. The cost of the memorial was covered by the animal clinic.
Buddy, a German Shepherd mix, was found lying on the side of the road in St. Charles in March with massive shotgun wounds to his face and neck. He was brought to the Walden Animal Hospital, but passed away during surgery to repair his broken teeth.
It was later learned that the dog's owner had asked a 32-year-old man to euthanize the animal, but he had only managed to injure him. The man is now facing four charges of animal cruelty. His case will go to provincial offences court for a third time July 30, where it is expected a date for his trial will be set.
Veterinarian Dr. Rod Jouppi said that in an enlightened society, people should care for those who cannot care for themselves. That includes animals, he said.
“When you look at Buddy, and Buddy's memorial, he is a reminder for our society that maybe we're not at the place we need to be yet, in terms of how we care for our animals, and what's important in our world,” he said.
“Buddy has symbolized in northern Ontario, in a recent way, some of the things we may not be doing properly on behalf of animals.”
Jouppi's partner, Dr. Carolyn Lariviere, said Buddy “really touched” the staff at the animal hospital during his short time there.
“He was such a strong and friendly dog,” she said.
What was even more touching was people's reaction to his story, which sparked petitions, donations to the animal hospital, children's get-well cards and even a walk to protest animal cruelty, Lariviere said.
“It just seemed to awaken the whole city,” she said. “People said 'No, this isn't right. This is not how we, as human beings, should treat animals.'”
The idea to hold a memorial for pets who have passed away came from Roc Lariviere, the owner of Memorial Gardens, who is also Dr. Carolyn Lariviere's husband. He said he plans to hold similar memorials every summer solstice and winter equinox.
He said he'd always planned to build a garden next to the crematorium where people could spread the ashes of their pets, if they chose to do so, and have a quiet place to reflect. When Buddy died, the Walden Animal Hospital asked if they could build a memorial in the garden.
Roc said the genesis of his business, which opened last fall, was the death of his own dog. He and Carolyn decided they wanted to have him cremated, but there was no pet cremation facility in the Greater Sudbury area.
“We had to send our pet away for that service,” he said.
“That was fine. The process was a little bit lengthy, and a little bit blind. We couldn't be present to witness the cremation. It took awhile to get the ashes back. We were waiting for closure. We just wanted our friend back home. We had a little garden prepped for him.”
Roc said he thinks there was a “pent-up demand” for the service.
“Right from the very start we had clients,” he said. “It's just been exponential since then. We have maybe 20 pets per week.”
A lot of his clients are devastated by the deaths of their pets, Roc said, but at the same time, they're embarrassed that they feel that way.
“A night like tonight allows like-minded people to get together and share some fun stories of their pets while they were still alive, and share what that pet meant to them.”
Rebecca Tonnos told the crowd at the event about her relationship with her Maine Coon cat, Meeko, who died two years ago.
Meeko originally belonged to her sister, who had passed away.
Tonnos said she didn't particularly want to own a cat, but the two seemed to bond in their shared grief in losing someone they loved. “It was probably my aloneness, and the anguish and pain,” she said. “I just loved that cat. He never left my side.”
She said she believes that people's souls are asleep until they find the love of an animal.
“I do believe that is the miracle of all animals,” Tonnos said.
For more information about the pet crematorium, phone 705-692-4999 or visit www.memorygardens.ca.
Posted by Arron Pickard