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BARUCH DAYAN HA’EMET

An old-age question:

What is the proper etiquette surrounding pet funerals?  Do we bring cakes and pies?  Do we sit Shiva?  Do different kinds of pets require greater reverence – Dog vs. Guinea Pig?  Is it ok to say that you think that they do?

LISTEN:

Do you generally bring a cake to a funeral?

The proper etiquette at pet funerals is exactly the same as human funerals, just scaled down to the size of the animal that died.  While no one would argue that a dog is more important than a guinea pig, say, in the funeral department, that’s mostly because they’ll burst into tears at your suggestion of it.  Why don’t we keep that one to ourselves?

Cakes and pies and other tasty delights are enjoyed after the funereal splendor, but in this case might be a bit much – how about a cupcake?  A fond word or two about your own dearly departed childhood friend is in order, and how adorable you find those creatures to be in general.  Assurances are then made that it had a happy little life with the bereaved.

And I mean a few fond words, too – this is not the time for Neruda’s A Dog Has Died.  

There are all kinds of hoary websites and articles out there outlining in just appalling detail various (and I use this word quite wrongly) rituals you can act out at the death of a pet.  Mostly treacle and half-baked pseudo-spirituality – these ghastly pantomimes are as offensive to the thinking person as they are to the religious – but that’s not who they’re written for.  So no, one doesn’t sit Shiva for animals, but there’s no harm in appropriating a gesture to ritual – feel free to observe seven minutes of somber reflection if you are so inclined.

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