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The History of Pet Memorials - An Ancient Tradition

Jez D on

Published in Cats & Dogs News

In a cave in France there is a set of tracks of a child and a dog walking together, that are dated at 26,000 BC. Some archaeologists believe that the domestication of dogs may have occurred as early as 90,000 years ago. Many ancient pet burials have been found that demonstrate just how dear these animals were to their humans.

Dog burials have been found in Germany from 14,000 BC, in North America from 11,000 BC, and China from 7,000 BC. The earliest known pet cat grave is in Cyprus, dated about 9,500 BC, long before the Egyptians revered cats. A horse burial has been discovered in Armenia, dated from about 2,600 BC.

These burials were arranged as were the human burials in the same area, some side by side, demonstrating the status these animals had with their owners. They were laid to rest in posed positions, with grave gifts of flowers, toys, and human food. The inescapable conclusion is that for the people who buried them, these animals had "person-hood." It is not hard to picture our Stone Age ancestors weeping over the graves of their lost, beloved companions.

The History of Pet Cemeteries

The earliest known pet cemetery was excavated in Illinois in the US, and contained many burials of the dog companions of Native Americans. It has been dated to 6,500 BC. And we all are familiar with the ancient Egyptian custom of pet burial. There are pet cemeteries along the Nile where Egyptians had their beloved pets mummified and interred in family tombs. One grieving Pharaoh had a sarcophagus made for his beloved guard dog Abutiu (With Pointed Ears), and mummified in finest linen, spices and oils. Abutiu was laid to rest in his own underground tomb, "so that he might become one of the Blessed."

Alexander The Great owned a mastiff named Peritas. When she died, around 350 BC, he led a large funeral procession, held a formal burial and erected a large monument to her. He ordered the local residents to honour her death every year with a festival.


When did pet cemeteries as we know them now first appear? The oldest continuously operating cemetery is in the state of New York, by name of Hartsdale Pet Cemetery. In 1896, Dr. Samuel Johnson, a veterinarian, allowed a deeply bereaved friend bury her beloved dog in his apple orchard. He was immediately inundated with requests from others to be allowed the same privilege. Today, more than a century later, there are over 70,000 pets buried there.

So you can see, from your ancient stone age ancestors, to the great Pharaohs and conquerors, to the everyday people past and now, you are in fine company with your desire to memorialise your companion. Today in the UK, pet burial is a well-respected custom, evidenced by the many fine pet cemeteries across the country. Some people bury their pets in their gardens, and others scatter ashes, and then place a stone for remembrance.


Pet Memorials UK has years of experience creating stone memorials and plaques for thousands of customers. Let us help you express your spiritual kinship with your pet with an enduring remembrance. Your stone pet memorial will be a lasting testament to the long cherished belief that in the mystery to come, you and your companion will experience the joy of reunion.



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