February 23, 2013
Taxidermy Is Out: Freeze-Dry Fido Today
For pet owners, a dog or cat becomes part of the family, and they’ve got shorter lives than us, so death is inevitable. Freeze-drying your lost pet may be a better alternative than taxidermy or burying them in the back yard.
Owning a pet can be a real joy. There are smiles all around when there’s a new puppy or kitten in the home. It comes with lots of responsibility and I’m not going to tiptoe around it, several years after that joy has subsided, it comes with inevitable loss.
While life expectancies in dogs and cats vary greatly based on breed and habitat, owning a pet usually ends one of two ways: the pet runs off and may never be seen again, or they die. Unless we’re talking about senior citizens, people usually aren’t outlived by their dogs or cats.
That’s a pretty bitter pill to swallow, but not any more.
Taxidermy has been a fairly popular alternative for pet owners who would rather not bury or cremate their lost companion, but it’s sort of a violent process.
For the concerned pet owner, there is freeze-drying.
The technology has been available for ages. According to eHow, “The first culture known to practice freeze drying was the Incas. In the 15th century, crops were stored in the high altitudes of the Andes. This caused the foods to freeze while the water vaporized due to the low air pressure.
During the early 20th century, a number of independent inventors created vacuum technology that made freeze-drying possible. The most successful of these was S.F. Shackell, who began to utilize it on bodily fluids as of 1909.”
The technology has come a long way since the early 1900’s, and now it can include your beloved lost pet.
According to this CNN report, it can take from six months to up to a year, and is not a cheap process, but as with anything else, as the demand for the technology increases more innovation is sure to arise, and it will eventually become a faster, cheaper, process. Until then, patience and a good chunk of change are requirements for potential participants.
In my research, I’ve found several places around the US that will be glad to freeze-dry preserve your pet. (From the discerning eye of a designer, all of their websites are absolutely hideous, but that’s not the focus today.”)
Most of the sites give a pretty good explanation of their process and step by step instructions for the interested owner.
In a nutshell, if you’re an interested grieving pet owner, see to it that after your companion passes, they’re immediately bagged and frozen in a traditional freezer. If the death occurred at a vet, they’ll usually handle that for you. Then you contact the business of your choice and proceed with shipping instructions.
Sounds pretty painless, right?
I’ve got two dogs now, and I’ve had dogs all my life. I remember the day my childhood best friend, Bear Dog, an enormous chocolate lab, died. It was my Mother’s first day of work at her new job, and she was ecstatic. When she went outside, there Bear Dog lay peacefully beneath the red bud tree that used to adorn my childhood backyard. We were both crushed, and I remember she had to call in, so we could bury him.
I’ll never forget that experience. While I don’t think I’ll be freeze-drying my pets when their time comes, it’s a far more desirable experience than mine, and it’s far less violent than taxidermy.
Like I said, not for me, but different strokes for different folks; you may want to look into it. A quick Google search for “freeze drying pets” will yield several US companies, and a little bit of your own research will guide your decision.
(I speak exclusively of dogs and cats, because that’s all I’ve ever owned, but I’m sure birds and some reptiles can be freeze-dried as well. Do your homework.)
Image Credit: elena pancu / Shutterstock