Gates of Heaven, have you seen it? It's a great documentary made in 1978 by Errol Morris--same guy who gave us The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara (2003).
Gates of Heaven begins by introducing us to a couple characters who have opened Los Altos Foothill Pet Cemetery near Napa Valley, CA. Mostly they're in it 'cause they love their pets and hate the idea of our beloved companion animals being rendered into tallow after death. They're all heart. Unfortunately this is their downfall. Without the business know how, their venture fails and goes bankrupt. 450 pets have to be removed from the cemetery. Fortunately a man named Cal Harberts comes to the rescue. He agrees to have the pets relocated to his pet cemetery, Bubbling Well Pet Memorial Park, in Napa Valley. So we say goodbye to the first group in the film and meet the second group, the Harberts family. Now this bunch is serious about the business of burying and cremating pets. Not only do they have the compassion to successfully carry out this delicate mission, they have the skills to pay the bills. Bubbling Well Pet Memorial Park is still in business today. And that is a good thing too--for the pets, at the very least. Sadly, Cal is no longer with us. His cremains are in an urn at the pet cemetery's chapel. His youngest son Dan now runs the place along with his wife.
Gates of Heaven is not only well made and entertaining but really got me thinking about what the heck I'm gonna do with the furry friend sitting on my lap once she kicks the bucket. My parents had their dog Bandit cremated several years ago. His ashes are in a beautiful stone urn that sits on a table in their home office. I want to have my cat Katie cremated as well. It is actually a lot cheaper than you'd think. I checked out three different pet crematoriums within an hour's drive from my house. The average price is about $120.00 plus the cost of the urn. A decent wood urn with an engraved plaque runs about $70.00. So for about $200.00, you can have your pet be with you forever rather than have it end up rendered at a factory or buried in the back yard of a house that you may, in the future, no longer own. I think that is a very small sum to pay for peace of mind. Don't you?
I'll sleep better tonight knowing that I have a plan for Katie. She doesn't know about it. But I do. And that is all that matters. The industry of death is for the living; the dead could care less. And the business of pet burial/cremation is for us humans; pets such as Katie could care less. And I'm glad she doesn't have to worry about such things.
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